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In The News: February 

In The News: February 

Breanna Gallo 

A Score for Sure 

The World Masters Athletics (WMA) recently announced that Alachua County will be hosting the 2025 WMA Indoor Championships (WMACi25). This event is typically held every two years, and this is the first time the event is being held in the United States. The WMACi25 will take place over eight days, featuring 24 competitions, such as an indoor track & field competition, road race and outdoor events. 

Interest in hosting this event within Alachua County initially occurred in May 2023 at a Board of County Commissioners meeting. It is projected that over 10,000 visitors will come to spectate the event in Alachua County, with 60% of these visitors coming from outside the United States. The event will be held at the Alachua County Sports and Events Center (ACSEC) in Celebration Pointe. 

Check Mate Champs 

Students from several Gainesville schools have become award-winning chess champions. The new title for these students comes following their participation at the national k-12 championship in Orlando. Oak Hall School took the competition by storm, winning first place in the kindergarten, first and third grade competitions. Williams Elementary also placed in a top position for third and fifth grade. The eighth and ninth grade competitions led to second place wins for both the Lincoln Middle and Buchholz High teams. 

A Grant to Grin About 

The University of Florida College of Dentistry and the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine have received a grant that they will use towards expanding research into young dentists’ practice. This grant was awarded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The grant will support the startup of an academic multidisciplinary practice-based research network that will serve as a collaborative network for dental schools. By pushing for research within the practice, dental education will be able to prepare current and future dentists to conduct clinical research. These institutions will work together on the Development of Opportunities for Research project through 2028, developing clinical research skills, team-based science and more. 

New Sherriff (office) in Town 

The Alachua County Sherriff’s Office (ACSO) recently held a grand opening for its new precinct in Hawthorne. The Hawthorne precinct will strengthen the connection between the Hawthorne community and the ACSO. This will be Hawthorne’s only physical law enforcement location in the town. The new sub-station is in the Hawthorne City Hall building and will be used for crime prevention, interviews with victims of crimes, theft reports and other interactions. This will also create shorter response times for emergencies. 

Dramatic Winners 

Students from Alachua County Public Schools won top awards at Florida’s District 12 high school thespian competition and District 1 middle school competition. In doing so, these students qualified to compete in the spring statewide competitions. Eastside High School’s Aaiden Cotton and Patrick Ford earned top honors in the performance category while Gainesville High School’s Kaley Bleaker won the technical theatre category, making them representatives of District 12 in the Florida State Thespian Festival for high school students, held in Tampa in March. 

Lincoln Middle School’s students also won Best in Show and District with students Jayden Arduser, Esther Thompson, Khloe’ Ayala-Vermont, Payton Howell, Carys Maltby, Megan Hoover and Gracie McMillen winning the top award that qualified them to compete at the Junior Thespians State Festival in Orlando in late February.  

See Also

Buchholz, Gainesville and Eastside High Schools, as well as Westwood and Lincoln Middle School’s troupes, also earned high ratings and awards for a combined 67 Superior ratings and 67 Excellent ratings.  

Buchholz High School’s Camilla Lowry also won a $1,000 scholarship for costume construction. 

Epic Expansion 

Florida Credit Union is embarking on a major expansion with the construction of a cutting-edge 90,000 square-foot headquarters in Gainesville. The site, located at the northwest corner of Williston Road and Fred Bear Road, is currently undergoing land clearance. Collaborating with Colliers and Walker Architects, the credit union is set to build on a 23-acre space.  

Mark Starr, President and CEO, highlighted the institution’s remarkable growth, doubling its asset size to over two billion by December 2023 and serving more than 150,000 members. The state-of-the-art facility aims to accommodate continued growth, with completion expected in 2025. 

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