February 13 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government


This Issues Features:

Freedom Ride 2008 Program
ACCESS Classes
UF SHPE Adopts Sweetwater Preserve
County Commission Honors Election Workers for Their Services
Upcoming Community Emergency Response Team Classes
What’s on Alachua County Talks?
Tax Collector’s Offices Closed on President’s Day
Protecting Alachua County’s Natural Resources
Milling and Resurfacing of CR241
Animal Services’ Valentine Event
Reminder: BOCC/LPA Meetings on Comp. Plan Evaluation
Voter Registration Deadline for March 24, 2009 City of Gainesville Election Approaching
Commission Meeting Highlights


Freedom Ride 2008 Program

Community 12 TV, Alachua County is presenting “Freedom Ride 2008”, an in depth look at the civil rights movement in Alachua County during the 1950s and 1960s.
The program covers the Freedom Ride 2008 (hosted by the Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Committee), that led up to the recent re-naming of the new Gainesville Regional Transit System bus depot in honor of civil rights activist Rosa Parks. The program features talks with local community leaders who were on the front lines of the civil rights movement in Alachua County. Those interviewed include former County Commissioner and Alachua County School Board member Charles Chestnut III, Joel Buchannan (one of the three African- American students who first integrated Gainesville High School in 1964), J. Leslie Cosby (the first African-American teacher at GHS), University of Florida Student activist Dr. Dan Harmeling, civil rights leaders Vivian Filer and Doris Edwards, and Reverend Milford Griner, Chairman of the Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Committee.
This special program will replace County Update for the month of February. It will air at 7 p.m. every night but Thursday and at 7 a.m. and midnight every day (all showings may be preempted by special or regular meetings, or other programming).
To view “Freedom Ride 2008” immediately on Video on Demand, click here.
For more information, call the Alachua County Communications Office at 352-374-5226..

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ACCESS Classes

Join us for the Alachua County Civic Education SerieS (ACCESS), your ticket to a behind-the-scenes look at Alachua County Government.
Learn about local government issues and gain access to County operations that most citizens never see. Each graduating class will produce a group of citizens equipped to engage in ways that help Alachua County become more representative of its citizenry’s needs.
County Manager Randall H. Reid said of ACCESS, “Thomas Jefferson believed an informed citizenry was democracy’s greatest safeguard and we agree. Where do you go if you want to make a difference in your community. . . ACCESS is the key.”
ACCESS begins March 16 and runs for seven sessions. ACCESS is free but space is limited.
For a complete schedule of classes, or to register online, visit our website www.alachuacounty.us/ACCESS.
To reserve your seat or for more information, call (352) 374-5219.

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UF SHPE Adopts Sweetwater Preserve

Although it was a crisp 40 degrees last Saturday morning, it did not stop the UF Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) from volunteering at Alachua County’s Sweetwater Preserve.  Sweetwater Preserve was acquired by Alachua County in 2006 through the Alachua County Forever bond and a Florida Communities Trust grant.  The preserve has been open to the public since July 2008 and is managed by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD).  SHPE adopted Sweetwater Preserve and is assisting EPD staff with groundcover restoration in the Sandhill located on the eastern side of the preserve adjacent to the Gainesville – Hawthorn Rail Trail.  Sandhill is a dry pineland natural area with a canopy of longleaf pines, a sub-canopy of occasional deciduous oak species and a groundcover of wiregrass, other grasses and herbs that is sustained by frequent fire.  Historic agricultural land uses degraded Sweetwater’s Sandhill, but with assistance it can become healthy again.  Restoration efforts in the Sandhill consist of reintroducing fire into the system, removing non-native invasive plants and augmenting the existing groundcover with native species such as wiregrass and lopsided indiangrass. 
On Saturday February 7th, thirteen members of SHPE planted native grasses and removed non-native invasive grasses in the restoration area.  They purchased 435 wiregrass and lopsided indiangrass plugs for the planting.  These grasses will increase species diversity of the site’s groundcover that provides wildlife food & habitat and fine fuels for burning the site. 
In addition to the plantings, SHPE assisted with the removal of two species of non-native invasive plants.  Cogongrass (native to S.E. Asia) and Natalgrass (native to S. Africa) were hand pulled and placed in plastic bags for disposal.  Cogongrass is considered one of the top 10 worst weeds in the world.  If non-native invasive plant species are not removed from ACF’s lands they will eventually out compete the native vegetation and dominate the preserve, thus decreasing diversity, changing fire behavior, and reducing forage and habitat for native wildlife.  Removing invasive plants from conservation areas is a great way to learn about these issues and assist in ecosystem restoration projects that have tangible results you can see each time you hike or bike in the preserve.
The ACF program appreciates SHPE helping to restore Sweetwater Preserve so it can better support native wildlife and be enjoyed by visitors for years to come.

For more information- Alachua County Forever program click here.
Native Grasses:
Lopsided Indiangrass
Non-native Invasive Grasses:

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County Commission Honors Election Workers for Their Services

Alachua County Election Workers were honored at this week’s Commission meeting for their hard work and dedication to the voters of Alachua County.
Election workers filled the commission room.  “I don’t think we have ever had so many people in this chamber, this is the largest gathering,’  said Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut.
The proclamation read by Chairman Byerly declared February 16, 2009 through February 20, 2009 as “Election Workers Appreciation Week.”  Over 850 election workers served Alachua County voters during the November 4th election day.  They completed over 3,700 hours of training in preparation for this historic day.  In December, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission recognized election workers all over the country and declared December 7 through December 13, 2008 as “National Election Worker Appreciation Week.”
Accepting the proclamation on behalf of the election workers, Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter thanked the Commission and the workers in attendance.   “You, the election workers are our gatekeepers.  You are the ones who make elections possible through your dedication, your commitment to democracy and your many long hours of service.”  Carpenter recognized her staff and thanked them publicly for the long days, nights, and weekends of service they provided to the citizens of Alachua County.  Recognition was also given to the Board of County Commission IS Department for their can-do and will-do attitude in setting up the communications for the early voting sites, phone bank, and any other assistance required.  Sol Hirsch, Director of the Alachua County Library District was thanked for the use of the Millhopper and Tower Road Libraries for early voting sites and thanks was given to the polling place partners who welcomed voters into their facilities.
After the proclamation ceremony, a reception was held in honor of the elections workers in the Grace Knight room.  The room was decorated in a red, white and blue patriotic theme, in the spirit of the 2008 election season.    The youngest and eldest in attendance along with those workers serving 10 years or more were recognized during the reception.  “It is so wonderful for all of us to be thanked and appreciated for the work that we do.  We do feel that we make a difference in elections.  My husband and I have served many years,” said precinct clerk Ruth Brown. 
Many of the poll workers reminisced about when they first started working the elections under now Alachua County Clerk of Court, J.K. “Buddy” Irby and serving under former Supervisor of Elections Beverly Hill.   One poll worker mentioned that she got her start under Supervisor of Elections Alma K. Bethea, who served prior to Irby.
Any voter interested in becoming a poll worker for future elections may go online to VoteAlachua.com for more information or call the Supervisor of Elections Office at (352) 374-5252.

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Upcoming Community Emergency Response Team Classes

The Alachua County Division of Emergency Management has begun enrolling citizens for its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program.
It is never too early to begin preparing for the 2009 Hurricane Season, and there’s no better way than to attend the CERT program. CERT teaches citizens how to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. The next CERT class is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 and runs through April 14th.
The seven week class is free-of-charge to the public and covers the following topics:
Disaster Preparedness
Fire Safety
Disaster Medical Operations
Light Search and Rescue Operations
CERT Organization and Disaster Psychology
Terrorism and CERT
The seven classes are on Tuesday evenings, and each session runs from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Classes are held at the Alachua County Emergency Operations Center located at 1100 SE 27th Street in Gainesville. Registration deadline is February 24th.
If you miss the deadline, or can’t make it to the classes listed above, there are two more scheduled classes this year. There will be classes beginning May 5th, and September 1st.
More information about CERT is available online by clicking here
If you would like to register, or you have any further questions, please contact the Office of Emergency Management at 352-264-6550.

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What’s on Alachua County Talks?

Click to watch Alachua County Household Hazardous Waste Coordinator Kurt Seaburg talk about the Hazardous Waste services provided

Click to watch Chair of the Energy Conservation Strategies Commission (ECSC), Penny Wheat talk about energy and conservation strategies.

Check out the latest editions of Alachua County Talks on Community 12  TV by viewing the Channel 12 Show Schedule.

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Tax Collector’s Offices Closed on President’s Day

The Alachua County Tax Collector’s Offices (all three Gainesville locations) will be closed for employee training on Monday, February 16th (President’s Day) and will reopen Tuesday, February 17th at 8 a.m.

They apologize for any inconvenience.

For more information, please call 352-374-5236.

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Protecting Alachua County’s Natural Resources

Many residents are fond of Alachua County for its richness in natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities.  We have, after all, some amazing springs, rivers, lakes, and forests to visit and allow us to connect with nature.  But residents often do not have to go very far to get a feel of the outdoors as many people can enjoy these amenities right in their own backyard.  “Unlike many in the state, county residents are fortunate to be surrounded by natural resources,” says Michael Buono, of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD).    Embracing nature and learning and understanding its value benefits everyone.  Many studies show that maintaining green spaces and natural areas improves the health of the residents.  Altering natural areas takes away some of the function or value that particular system provides, and if the clearing occurred without a permit, it is often costly to make repairs once the damage is done.  That is why it is critical to have your property assessed before any clearing, under brushing, or development activity takes place.
The natural resources program staff responded to more than 1,100 inquires or complaints about natural resource related concerns in the past year alone.  By far, the most common violation of Alachua County’s environmental regulations is clearing vegetation within regulated natural resources without a permit.  Many people are familiar with restrictions to surface waters and wetlands, and their required buffers.  However, Alachua County also has regulations protecting upland habitat, including listed species habitat, significant plant and wildlife habitat, and strategic ecosystems.   “With each of these resources having specific use restrictions, it can be difficult for citizens to remain in compliance with our code without assistance from an environmental specialist,” says Heather Martin, of ACEPD Natural Resources Program. 
While some maps can provide guidance regarding what type of resources may exist on a parcel, oftentimes natural resources are not reflected on map layers, or may be inaccurately portrayed.  For instance, regulated upland resources, such as significant habitat or listed species habitat, are not usually mapped for practical reasons (i.e. listed animal species are mobile and thus their habitat changes over time).  Wetland boundaries are usually just approximations based on aerial photography interpretation and/or topographic and soil information.  Field verification by environmental professionals trained in wetland delineation is required to truly “delineate” the wetland line according to state regulations to meet the buffer requirement of the county.  Even strategic ecosystems, which are the only truly mapped regulated natural resource in Alachua County, are subject to field determination. 
All of these resources most often necessitate ground-truthing (that is, accurate field assessments), and the staff at ACEPD can help you define the boundaries of regulated natural resources before clearing or any other impact occurs.   Since 2004, ACEPD staff has been reviewing all building permit applications to make sure they comply with county environmental regulations. This “pre-application screening” (PAS) process allows staff to address environmental issues before they arise.  “I believe our focus should be on prevention; to be pro-active,” says Betty Levin of ACEPD Natural Resources.  “Hopefully by getting the word out, our role in enforcing regulations that protect our environment is appreciated and we will have fewer enforcement cases in the future.” 
 So, when in doubt, please contact Alachua County EPD (352-264-6800) and ask to speak to a natural resources staff member before you commence any underbrushing, clearing, or other development activities in natural areas.  
For more information about natural resources visit our website at www.alachuacounty.us/epd/nr.

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Milling and Resurfacing of CR241

On February 9, 2009 the Alachua County Public Works Department Road Crew will begin milling and resurfacing CR 241(NW 140th St) from CR 236 to the Alachua County limits. Construction will consist of 2 bike lanes (4 feet wide), striping, turn lane and drainage of the road.
Construction is expected to last 90 calendar days. Daily lane closures may be in effect during this time period. Anyone traveling through this area should expect delays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
The milling and resurfacing is being funded from Gas Tax Bond Revenues approved by the Board of County Commissioners in April of 2005.
For more information, click here or contact Antonio Vergara at the Alachua County Public Works Department at 352-374-5245 ext. 308.

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Animal Services’ Valentine Event

Alachua County Animal Services is hosting “Come Fall In Love,” Saturday February 14, 2009, from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at Animals Services (3400 NE 53 Ave., Gainesville). They have cats, dogs, and puppies.
“If you are looking for someone to fall in love with, this may be the time for you to come and fall in love with your new four legged bundle of joy… you can come by and visit for some free puppy love,” says Hilary Hynes, Public Education Program Coordinator.
This event falls into the 1st Annual Week for the Animals. Governor Charlie Crist has proclaimed February 7-15 the Week for the Animals.
For more information, call Alachua County Animal Services 352-264-6870.

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Reminder: BOCC/LPA Meetings on Comp. Plan Evaluation

The public is invited to attend a series of joint special meetings with the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and Local Planning Agency (LPA) on the Alachua County Comprehensive Plan Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) in February and March. All meetings will be held at the Jack Durrance Auditorium, Room 209 of the County Administration Building (12 SE 1st Street) and will begin at 5:30 p.m.
      The purpose of the meetings is to review the major community issues and potential options and strategies identified in the EAR process for the Comprehensive Plan, and to receive direction from the BOCC and LPA for Public Hearings expected to begin in April.
Each meeting will focus on a different subject area, as follows:
Thursday, February 12 - Community Facilities & Services
Thursday, February 19 - Economic Development
Tuesday, March 3 - Agriculture/Greenspace
Thursday, March 5 - Land Use/Transportation
Thursday, March 12 - Urban Area/Housing
Tuesday, March 17 - Resource Protection

These meetings will be followed by public hearings in the spring and summer to adopt the Evaluation and Appraisal Report by September 2009 including recommendations for update of the County’s Comprehensive Plan in 2009/2010.
       A full schedule of meeting dates with the County Commission and Local Planning Agency are posted on the County’s EAR website at http://www.alachuacounty.us/ear. A series of Issue Papers and a summary of all major issues and their identified options are also posted.
      For more information, please call the Growth Management Department at 352-374-5249 or send an email to ear@alachuacounty.us

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Voter Registration Deadline for March 24, 2009 City of Gainesville Election Approaching

With a little over a month to go before the March 24, 2009 City of Gainesville Election, Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter would like to remind City residents that Monday, February 23, 2009 is the last day to register to vote.
You may register to vote, update your voter information, or update your signature online at VoteAlachua.com.   You may go online for a list of other facilities in the county where voter registration application forms may be obtained or call the Supervisor of Elections Office at (352) 374-5252.  To vote in the City of Gainesville Election, mail-in applications must be postmarked no later than the February 23rd deadline.
Current registered voters who have moved within the City of Gainesville can update their address by going online at VoteAlachua.com or calling the Elections Office at (352) 374-5252.  A voter who has moved from another Florida county or from out of state must complete a Florida Voter Registration Application.
There are 3 ways to cast a ballot in this election.  Voters may choose to vote absentee, early vote or vote at their polling location on Election Day. 
Absentee Voting 
Anyone may request an absentee ballot and vote by mail.  When Voting by Mail, voters can take all the time they need to review their ballot in the comfort of their own home.  To make your request, go online to VoteAlachua.com or call the Supervisor of Elections office at (352) 374-5252 no later than 5pm on March 18, 2009 if you wish to have your ballot mailed to you.  Voters will need to make sure the address and signature on file with the Supervisor of Election is current.  All absentee ballots must be received in the Supervisor of Elections Office by 7pm Election Day.
Early Voting
Early Voting for the City of Gainesville Election will be available Monday, March 16, 2009 through Saturday, March 21, 2009.
Weekdays, Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm
March 16, 2009 – March 20, 2009
Weekend, Saturday, 9am to 5pm
March 21, 2009 (early voting ends)
Early Voting Site
County Administration Building
Ground Floor - SOE
12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville
Election Day Voting
The City of Gainesville Precincts are open from 7am to 7pm on Election Day.  Florida Law requires voters to present picture and signature ID in order to vote, if you do not have the proper ID, you will need to vote a provisional ballot.  If you need to locate your precinct, go to VoteAlachua.com  
If you have any questions or need further information please visit our website at VoteAlachua.com or contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at (352) 374-5252.

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Commission Meeting Highlights


4. Announcements - Mark Sexton, Communications Coordinator
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: N/A

Time Certain Items
Public Comments (9:30 AM)

5. 9:30 AM Public Comments
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Hear Public Comments

Community Outreach
Recognitions, Proclamations and Presentations

6. Length of Service Milestone Recipients (Amended)
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Recognize County Employees that have reached a Length of Service or Career Milestone in January, 2009.
Attachment: January 16 emp.pdf
7. Proclamation: "Election Workers Appreciation Week" in Alachua County, Florida. (Amended)
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Present a proclamation declaring February 16, 2009 to February 20, 2009 as "Election Workers Appreciation Week" in Alachua County, Florida.
Attachment: Election Workers Appreciation Week 2009.pdf
8. Proclamation: "Ebony Appreciation Awards Banquet Day" in Alachua County, Florida.
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Present a proclamation declaring Sunday, February 22, 2009 as "Ebony Appreciation Awards Banquet Day" in Alachua County, Florida.
Attachment: Ebony Appreciation Awards Banquet Day 2009.pdf
9. Proclamation: "J.T. Frankenberger Day" in Alachua County, Florida.
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Present a proclamation declaring Tuesday, February 10, 2009 as "J.T. Frankenberger Day" in Alachua County, Florida.
Attachment: J.T. Frankenberger Day 2009.pdf
10. Presentation: Success by Six (Amended)
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Hear the presentation by Karen Bricklemyer concerning the Success by Six program.
Appointments to Advisory Boards and Committees

11. CHOICES Advisory Board Appointments
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Appoint two citizens to the CHOICES Advisory Board, one to the Pharmacist position, term ending December 2011, and one to the Small Business Owner position, term ending November 2010.
Attachment: CHOICES Tally Sheet.pdf
Attachment: CHOICES Roster.pdf
Attachment: CHOICES Attendance.pdf
Attachment: Hill E Pharmacist.pdf
Attachment: AbbittK Sm business owner.pdf
Attachment: Jennings Jr Ed.pdf
Attachment: HazouriK Small bus.pdf
Attachment: PowersC Pharmacist.pdf
12. Recreational and Open Space Advisory Committee Nomination Confirmation (Amended)
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Confirm the nomination of one citizen to the City of Gainesville Representative position on the Recreational and Open Space Advisory Committee.
Attachment: ROSCO Tally Sheet.pdf
Attachment: ROSCO Member Roster.pdf
Attachment: ROSCO Attendance.pdf
Attachment: Van Blokland Nomination.pdf
13. Land Conservation Board Appointments (Amended)
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Appoint five citizens to the Land Conservation Board, two to Natural Resources Professional positions and three to Citizen-at-large positions.
Attachment: SloneD.pdf
Attachment: LCB Tally Sheet.pdf
Attachment: Cantwell K.pdf
Attachment: ChandlerD.pdf
Attachment: TeisingerJ.pdf
Attachment: BukataB.pdf
Attachment: ChandlerD addtl info.pdf
Attachment: LCB Master Roster.pdf
Attachment: LCB Attendance Jan 09.pdf
Attachment: DerbishJ Natural Resources Prof.pdf

Governmental Units
Support Services Group

14. Progress report on the Take Home Vehicle Policy (Amended)
Amount: NA
Recommended Action: Accept and approve the report and hear the brief power point presentation.
County Manager Reports

15. County Manager's Report
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Hear County Manager's Report

Closing Comments
Public Comments - 15 minutes

16. Closing Comments
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Hear Closing Comments
Commission Comments

17. Commission Comments
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Present Commission Comments

Evening Community Outreach
Public Comments - 30 minutes, then resume Public Hearing (5:30 PM)

18. Public Comments (Amended)
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Hear Public Comments

Public Hearings
Regular Matters

19. Public Hearing to Consider Amendments to the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) regarding the Process and Standards of Development Review and Other Sections of the Code (Amended)
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Approve recommended changes to the Unified Land Development Code and direct staff to proceed with the second and final adoption hearing.
Attachment: ULDCRev_Ordinance.pdf
Attachment: Summary of Proposed ULDC Sections to Amend.pdf
Attachment: ULDC Update Presentation.pdf
Attachment: ULDC Update Presentation First Hearing.ppt
Attachment: ULDCRev__ Exhibit A.pdf

Advisory Board Appointments

Mr. Benjamin Bukata III was appointed to the Land Conservation Board as a Citizen-at-Large to a term ending December 31, 2013.
Dr. Debra Chandler was appointed to the Land Conservation Board as a Citizen-at-Large to a term ending January 31, 2013.
Mr. Jason Teisinger was appointed to the Land Conservation Board as a Natural Resources Professional to a term ending December 31, 2013.
Mr. John Derbish was appointed to the Land Conservation Board as a Natural Resources Professional to a term ending December 31, 2011.
Dr. Dan Slone was appointed to the Land Conservation Board as a Citizen-at-Large to a term ending January 31, 2013.
Dr. Elaine Hill was appointed to the CHOICES Advisory Board as a Pharmacist to a term ending November 30, 2010.
Rep. Ed Jennings Jr. was appointed to the CHOICES Advisory Board as a Small Business Owner to a term ending December 31, 2011.
Ms. Gina van Blockland was appointed to the Recreation and Open Spaces Advisory Committee as a City of Gainesville Representative to a term without end date.
Ms. Virginia Seacrist was appointed to the Criminal Justice, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Grant Planning Committee as a Family Member of a Primary Consumer of Community-based Treatment Services to a term partially ending April 2009, then full term ending April 2011.

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Alachua County Advisory Boards

The Alachua County Commission is committed to citizen involvement on its advisory boards and is soliciting applications for the following vacancies:

  • Alachua County Housing Authority: One Alternate Tenant-Commissioner; this position requires residency in public housing or that applicant is on the Alachua County Housing Authority’s Section 8 Voucher Program
  • Alachua County Historical Commission: Three citizens-at-large, four citizens-at-large
  • CHOICES Health Services Advisory Board: One CHOICES program participant (Alternate), one managed care employee, one Physician, three citizens-at-large
  • Citizens Disability Advisory Committee : Four citizens-at-large
  • Community Agency Partnership Program: One citizen-at-large
  • Environmental Protection Advisory Committee: One citizen-at-large, one alternate
  • Fair Housing Human Rights Board: One residential rental manager
  • Gainesville/Alachua County Arts in Public Places Trust: One interior designer, when possible
    Health Care Board: Two low-income health care consumers
  • Health Facilities Authority: One citizen-at-large, one alternate
  • Housing Finance Authority: One citizen-at-large, one alternate, one citizen-at-large knowledgeable in the areas of labor, finance or commerce
  • Poverty Reduction Advisory Board: one low income citizen
  • Recreation and Open Space Advisory Committee: Four citizens-at-large
  • Regional Transit System Advisory Board: One citizen with a disability
  • Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center Program Advisory Council: One citizen-at-large, one alternate

Get Involved - Click here for an application: http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/bocc/advisoryboard.aspx

Applications are also available at the County Manager’s Office on the Second Floor of the County Administration Building, 12 SE 1st St., Gainesville. For more information, call (352) 264-6904.

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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

Community Update is produced by the County Manager's Communications Office.