May 14 edition of:

Community Update - Earth Day Edition
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government


This Issues Features:

Jim Lynch, Director of the Alachua County Office of Veteran Services Retires
Cell Phones for Soldiers
County Update on Channel 12
Joint BoCC/LPA Workshops on Alachua County Comprehensive Plan Update
2010 Census Update
Updated County Greenhouse Gas Inventory
What’s On “Alachua County Talks”
Rain Barrel and Composter Sale

Animal Services “Spring Cleaning”
4-H Youth Day Camps
Master Gardener Plant Sale
Tax Certificate Sale

Jim Lynch, Director of the Alachua County Office of Veteran Services Retires

For many of the 20,000 veterans who have returned to Alachua County, Jim Lynch has offered more than just a “Welcome home.”
Jim Lynch has served as the Director of the Alachua County Office of Veteran Services for 23 years and during this time has worked to secure benefits for thousands of veterans. An Army veteran himself, Lynch has dedicated his career to fighting for those who fought for us.
“Our office has worked really hard to establish a good reputation in the veteran community.” Lynch said. “When a veteran needs help, we’re here to do what we can.”
With recognition as the County Veteran Service Office of the Year in 2004 and with Lynch’s personal recognitions, such as the President’s Award in 2006, the office has lived up to its reputation.
“Not a week goes by that I don’t hear a fascinating story about what a veteran has done while serving,” Lynch said. “They aren’t just fighting in a war— they are doing really cool things that people just don’t hear about.”
Throughout his career, Lynch has not only worked to help veterans in need, but has worked to honor those who have fallen. Some examples of this work include a four-year project that resulted in a chronicle of Alachua County’s 50 Veterans Memorials and a project that dedicated streets to five Alachua County soldiers killed in the Iraq war.
Lynch will be retiring on May 28th and has loved his job as a Veteran Services Officer and working in the Alachua County Department of Community Support Services.

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Cell Phones for Soldiers

The Alachua County Tax Collector’s Office, with the help of the citizens of Alachua County, has collected over 8,570 used cell phones.  This is an ongoing effort. The Tax Collector’s Office cell phone drop off locations is the County Administration Building Downtown at 12 SE 1st Street, the NW office at 5801 NW 34th Street, or the SW office at 3207 SW 35th Blvd., in the Wal-Mart Plaza.  Cell phones, accessories, chargers, batteries, Blackberry PDAs and pagers may be dropped off at any of these locations during normal business hours.  Cell phones are sent for recycling and the money raised helps Cell Phones for Soldiers buy calling cards for military personnel.  Representatives of the Tax Collector’s office have been attending the meetings of the Military Support Group of Alachua County to give them the calling cards to be included in the care packages sent to the troops. 
The Florida Cell Phones for Soldiers locations have issued a challenge for local programs to collect 10,000 phones for the month of May. The winning organization will be treated to a personal visit by Robbie and Brittany Bergquist, the brother and sister that started the project in April 2004.

The Tax Collector’s office is also collecting much needed items for the troops such as travel size toiletries, individual serving sizes of snacks, soups, cereal, drinks and miscellaneous items such as AA & AAA batteries, stationary and envelops, crossword puzzle books, used music CDs, DVD movies and travel size electronic games. 
For a complete list or more information about the program, please call the Tax Collector’s office at 352-337-6228 or 352-264-6935.
If you know of a military person in need of a care package, contact the Military Support Group of Alachua County at
For more information, go to  the national Cell Phones for Soldiers website at

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County Update on Channel 12

County Update is a half hour news program providing in-depth information on County programs, services and initiatives. County Update airs on Community 12 and the Video On Demand website. Click on the image to view this month’s show.

Features This Month
Community Conversations Budget Exercise
Lakeshore Buffer Planting
Splash into Science Night
Equine Therapy for Sexual Assault Survivors
Civil Rights Restoration
Gainesville/Alachua County Receives Workforce Award
County Opens Cynthia Moore Chestnut Park and Clark Butler Nature Preserve

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Joint BoCC/LPA Workshops on Alachua County Comprehensive Plan Update

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners has scheduled a series of joint special meetings with the Local Planning Agency to review draft amendments to the County’s Comprehensive Plan to implement the recommendations adopted by the County Commission in the Evaluation and Appraisal Report last August.
All meetings will be held in the Jack Durrance Auditorium on the second floor of the County Administration Building (12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville) and may also be viewed live on Cable Channel 12 or on the County’s Video on Demand website live or any time thereafter.
The draft policies scheduled for review and comment by the BOCC and LPA include a new Community Health Element and a new Energy Element, as well as policies in several other elements of the Comprehensive Plan pertaining to topics such as recreation, water resources, potable water and sanitary sewer, greenspace, affordable and special needs housing, standards for Activity Centers, open space for mixed used development in the Urban Cluster, update of the Economic Element and policies related to Industrial Uses and Economic Development and Environmental Stewardship in East Gainesville. 

Draft materials and background information for update of the Comprehensive Plan are posted on the County’s Evaluation and Appraisal Report website at

For more information, or to provide comments on the drafts and sign up for email updates, email the Comprehensive Planning Division in the Alachua County Growth Management Department at, call 352-374-5249, or visit the planning office on the third floor of the County Administration Annex Building (10 SW 2nd Avenue, Gainesville).

The meeting dates are:
Tuesday, May 18, at 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 1, at 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 15, at 5:30 p.m. (if needed)

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2010 Census Update

Currently, 71 percent of Alachua County residents have mailed in their 2010 Census Forms. Residents who have not yet sent in their Census Forms can still do so. Those who would rather answer the questions by phone can call the Census Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Line. Call 866-872-6868 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. This phone line will be available until July 30, 2010.

Also, Census takers from our community are currently knocking on doors and manually collecting Census data. Residents are encouraged to speak to the Census takers and answer the ten questions.
Census information helps decide Federal funding for: development block grants, education, recreation, and transportation. Also, the number of Congressional representatives for the State of Florida depends on Census data. The more complete, and accurate count that Alachua County receives, the better represented and funded we will be in the future.
County Commissioner and Census Champion Rodney J. Long, said, “This is the most important event of the decade. It is simple, safe, and confidential and means dollars being brought back into our community and insures that we have the proper representation in Washington.”

For more information, contact Alachua County Senior Planner, Ivy Bell at 352-374-5249.

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Updated County Greenhouse Gas Inventory

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department has completed an update of the Alachua County Government Operations Greenhouse Gas Inventory for calendar years 2008 and 2009. The new inventory estimates the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from County buildings and facilities, vehicle fleets, solid waste, water delivery facilities and streetlights and traffic signals sectors. The new updated inventory is compared to previous Alachua County government inventories completed for the years 1998 and 1990.
The 2009 inventory found that Alachua County government operations emitted 26,438 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents from energy and fossil fuel consumption which was a 5% decrease from 2008 GHG emissions. Total GHG emissions from the building and vehicle fleet sectors showed a 14% increase from 1998 to 2009. Vehicle fleet emissions increased 70% during this time period primarily due to out of County solid waste hauling operations and road construction by the County.
Chris Bird, Environmental Protection Director, said of the greenhouse gas update, “This update shows that Alachua County has achieved some encouraging decreases in greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage in some of the County’s older buildings that have served to offset some of the emission increases from government growth and newly constructed County facilities.”
Click here to view the 2008 and 2009 Alachua County Government Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

Alachua County joined the ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability/Cities for Climate Protection Campaign in 1999 and has committed to monitor and reduce GHG emissions. The Environmental Protection Department is completing an Alachua County Community-wide Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory Update which is expected to be completed by August 2010.
For more information, contact Chris Bird, or Dr. John Mousa, Alachua County Pollution Prevention Manager at 352-264-6800.

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Rain Barrel and Composter Sale

Alachua County is presenting a one-day-only backyard composter and rain barrel distribution event on Saturday, May 15, 2010 from 8 a.m. until noon, at the Alachua County Environmental Protection Hazardous Waste Collection Center (5125 NE 63rd Avenue, Gainesville, 2 miles north of 39th Avenue, off of Waldo Rd.)

The SYSTERN Rain Barrel and Earth Machine Backyard Composter will be sold on a first come, first served basis. SYSTERN Rain Barrels will be available for $45.00 and the Earth Machine composter will be available for $39.00. These prices include sales tax (cash, credit cards, or checks are accepted).

In the United States, outdoor water use can makeup between 25% to 58% of the overall domestic water demand. Rainwater harvesting can reduce this demand, both preserving municipal water supply for potable drinking water, and serving as a compliment to your gardening and backyard composting needs.

Composting vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, leaves, twigs and grass clippings reduces your garbage and creates a rich soil amendment to add to your garden.
For more information, contact the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department at 352-264-6800, or the Alachua County Public Works Department at 352-374-5213.

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What’s On “Alachua County Talks”

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

Click here to watch Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Director Don Goodman provide an overview of the founding, funding, and future of the botanical gardens.

Click here to watch Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager Sean McLendon give an in depth look at sustainability issues facing Alachua County and looks at efforts to address those issues, including the work of the County’s innovative Energy Conservation Strategies Commission (ECSC) and efforts to locate a resource recovery park in Alachua County to attract businesses which create products from recycled materials.

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Animal Services “Spring Cleaning”

Alachua County Animal Services is holding a “Spring Cleaning “ adoption event, Saturday, May 15, 2010, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at their headquarters (3400 NE 53rd Avenue, Gainesville).
The Spring Cleaning event includes: animal adoptions, a dog wash for well behaved dogs (with a suggested $5.00 donation). Dog trainers and vendors will be available for questions or concerns about a dog you own, or would like to adopt. A cat tree and dog beds will be raffled, and food will be provided. Alachua Police Department will have their K-9 unit on hand for a demonstration.
All donations will go towards heart worm and flea prevention for Animal Services animals.

“Come help us clear out our animal inventory by adopting your new four legged best friend. Come meet some dedicated animal vendors in our community.” said Hilary Hynes, Public Education Program Coordinator.
For more information, contact Hilary Hynes at 352-264-6881 or (area code required in some areas) 352-213-1241.

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4-H Youth Day Camps

The Alachua County Extension Office is pleased to announce the schedule for 2010 4-H Youth Day Camps. All of these programs (with the exception of Shooting Sports) are held at the Extension Office (2800 NE 39th Avenue, Gainesville). Space is limited so make your reservation now.

Day Camps include:
Cards, Photo Albums & More – June 29 - July 1, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for ages 10 – 18, cost $5.00
Learn to design and make cards, stationary, etc for all occasions. Participants will create cards using stamping, painting and other techniques. Learn to use fabric to create albums and memo books. Snacks will be provided.
Nutrition/Cooking – July 6 - 9, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for ages 8 – 12, cost $5.00
Prepare great tasting meals and snacks from around the world. Campers will also be given a tour of a local grocery store. They will learn to locate the ingredients they need for their recipes, as well as how to shop and save. Snacks provided.
Crafty Kids – July 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for ages 5 – 18, cost $20.00
Participants will have the chance to make more than 20 crafts from recycled projects to items made from duct tape, jewelry, food crafts, patriotic crafts and more. Lunch provided.
Butterfly – July 12 - 16, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for ages 6 -8, cost $25.00
Project Butterfly Wings - Participants explore butterflies and their habitats and learn to master the skill of butterfly identification. Snacks will be provided.
City Slickers – July 26 - 28, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for ages 10 – 15, cost $10.00
This tour will give youth an opportunity to see Alachua County Agriculture. Youth will tour beef cattle operations, horse farms, nurseries & greenhouses, vegetable farms, packing sheds and more. Snacks will be provided.
Natural Resources – August 4 - 6, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on August 6) for ages 8 – 14, cost $20.00
Explore the world of Natural Resources in Alachua County. There will be visits to Austin Cary National Forest and UF Fisheries. Snacks will be provided.
Shooting Sports – August 9 – 13, time and cost to be determined. For ages 10 – 18, at Gator Skeet and Trap (5202 NE 46th Avenue, Gainesville)
Learn proper gun safety, handling, and skeet shooting in a supervised environment. Beginners welcome. Shotguns provided.

Payment must accompany registration. Contact Matt Benge, 4-H Youth Development Agent at 352-955-2402 or to receive a registration form.

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Master Gardener Plant Sale

The Alachua County Master Gardeners Annual Plant Sale takes place on Saturday, May 22, 2010 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Extension Office (2800 NE 39 Avenue, Gainesville, corner of Waldo Rd & NE 39 Ave.)
All year Master Gardeners start from seed or propagate their favorite plants for this sale. A variety of herbs, annuals, perennials, natives and more will be available. Master Gardeners will be on site for advice on caring for your plants.
This annual plant sale is a fundraiser for the Alachua County Master Gardener Volunteer Program. In 2009 these volunteers gave over 5,700 hours of service to the citizens of Alachua County and made contact with nearly 20,000 people seeking gardening advice. There are currently 11 school gardens throughout Alachua County elementary schools run by these volunteers. School children are learning about growing fruits and vegetables. Last year over 75 pounds of food grown at schools was donated to Bread of the Mighty Food Bank. Community gardens are continually being established for local residents.

Admission and parking is free. Bring a box, bag or wagon to carry plants in.

For more information on the plant sale or to ask a master gardener for advice, contact the Extension office at 352-955-2402.

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Tax Certificate Sale

This release sent at the request of Alachua County Tax Collector Von Fraser

Alachua County Tax Collector, Von Fraser announces that the 2010 Tax Certificate sale for the 2009 delinquent real estate taxes will be held online at  The Alachua County Tax Collector and Realauction jointly host this site.  Registration and bidding will begin Thursday, May 13, 2010 and continue until the sale closes Tuesday, June 1, 2010.  Certificates will be offered in a series of seven batches that will begin closing out at 12 noon EDST and continue at one hour intervals until 6 p.m. EDST.  Certificates will be awarded to those bidders entering the lowest bids, with ties awarded based on a computer generated random selection algorithm.  Our office will provide computers and limited assistance for registered bidders who do not have internet access and want to participate in the tax certificate sale.

Please note the internet tax certificate sale will have a mandatory bidder deposit requirement.  Since bidders will not be physically present the day of the auction, we are requiring a 10% pre-deposit of your total intended purchases ($100 minimum). 

The tax certificate sale process ensures that a majority of the 2009 unpaid property taxes are collected and distributed to the various taxing authorities, allowing for the continuation of services.  Last year's sale netted $10,934,504.08 from the sale of 4,216 individual certificates.

The delinquent real estate advertisement will be published in the Alachua County Today newspaper May 13, 20 and 27, 2010.  The advertising list will also be available on the website and can be downloaded.

To avoid a certificate being issued, property owners with delinquent taxes are advised to pay at any the Tax Collector's three locations before 5 p.m. May 28, 2010.  Cash or certified funds are required.  Credit card payments can be made online, or by telephone 1- 866 -729-2282 (A 2.5% convenience fee will be added to credit card payments).  Credit Card payments must be received and posted no later than 5 p.m. on May 31, 2010.

For additional information regarding the tax certificate sale, please visit our internet sale website , the Tax Collector's website  or call (352) 374-5236.




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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:

Get Involved - Click here for an application:

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.