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In the News: May

In the News: May

By Laureen Young 

Walk This Way  

The 11th annual Best Buddies Friendship Walk took place in in Gainesville on April 7 and was a remarkable event that drew a large crowd of supporters. Through community efforts, this inclusive event raised nearly $14,000 in vital funds that will be used to sustain and expand the local Best Buddies programs. The Best Buddies Friendship Walk is the leading event in the country supporting inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). 

The walk not only raised funds but also fostered genuine friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. The event’s family-friendly nature, free entry, food, activities, games and various raffles and auctions from local businesses made it a memorable and heartwarming occasion. 

Eight is Their New Favorite Number 

Lincoln Middle School won its eighth Florida MATHCOUNTS championship, marking the seventh consecutive win in eight years. Coached by Jennifer Frazer, the team triumphed at the state competition held in Orlando. Eighth-graders George Paret, Daniel Wei, Ben Chronley and seventh-grader Edwin Gao, along with sixth-grader Jason Zhang as the alternate, dominated the contest, excelling in both individual and team events. Paret, Wei, Chronley and Gao advanced to the Countdown round, with Paret securing second place overall. Paret and Wei clinched spots on the Florida MATHCOUNTS team for the national competition in Washington, D.C. The team also triumphed in the ciphering competition. 

Affordable Power to the People  

The City of Alachua was recently recognized for its low-cost energy rates, garnering recognition through a comprehensive rate study conducted by the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA). The study affirmed that the City of Alachua stands out for providing the lowest-cost power statewide. This recognition stems from a residential bill comparison spanning from February 2023 to February 2024. The results of the study illustrate the city’s commitment to delivering affordable and reliable electricity to its residents. With rates that outshine those of neighboring utilities, the City of Alachua’s electric department continues to prioritize efficiency and sustainability. The city’s dedication to providing cost-effective power underscores its role as a leader in municipal electric services. 

FCU’s New Digs  

Florida Credit Union (FCU) kicked off construction for its new 90,000-square-foot corporate headquarters with a lively groundbreaking event. Despite the soggy ground, spirits were high as FCU celebrated this milestone in its 70th year. Mark Starr, FCU’s president and CEO, described the occasion as pivotal for the organization’s future. The headquarters will be situated on a 28-acre plot, though only 12 acres are suitable for building due to wetlands. Starr hinted at future expansion plans on the site.  

The new headquarters, located at the northwest corner of Williston Road and Fred Bear Road, will provide much-needed space for FCU’s growing team and enhance the overall member experience. Chief Operating Officer of the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce Ian Fletcher praised FCU’s community involvement, especially its support for education initiatives. Since its inception as the Alachua County Teachers’ Credit Union in 1954, FCU has grown significantly, serving 48 counties and witnessing substantial asset growth. Starr attributes FCU’s success to its dedication to personalized service, which continues to resonate with members despite industry changes. 

Chicken Wings and Community Things 

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Jonesville has welcomed a new Gator’s Dockside location, situated at 14126 W. Newberry Road. Spanning 6,100 square feet, the family-friendly sports-themed restaurant boasts an indoor/outdoor bar flanked by 42 high-definition televisions airing sports channels.  

Owner Jerry Roberts, a longtime resident of Gainesville and Jonesville, envisioned the location amidst the area’s recent growth. Roberts and his wife, Sabrina, are the sole franchisees of the company, currently owning five Gator’s establishments.  

The opening featured an exclusive pre-opening event and fundraiser for Tyler’s Hope for a Dystonia Cure, reflecting Roberts’ commitment to community engagement.  

Gator’s Dockside offers a diverse menu, including burgers, ribs, seafood, salads, desserts and their renowned chicken wings, available in 20 sauce options. Roberts aims for continued community involvement through fundraisers and sports sponsorships. Operating hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 

There’s a New(berry) Sheriff’s Office in Town 

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) has opened a new precinct in Newberry. This marks the third precinct opening under Sheriff Emery Gainey’s leadership since October. Gainey emphasized the longstanding close ties with Newberry, expressing optimism for continued collaboration. The precinct offers a convenient location for ACSO staff to engage with citizens, enhancing accessibility and community integration. Gainey highlighted the need for a centralized space after logistical challenges arose from a recent incident. Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe praised the partnership, emphasizing the precinct’s symbolic significance in solidifying community relations. While Newberry had considered establishing its own police force, the ACSO precinct reinforces confidence in the ongoing partnership. The spacious precinct, provided by the city of Newberry, is expected to be fully staffed during regular hours, reflecting ACSO’s commitment to expanding services across the county. Despite staffing challenges, Gainey remains proactive in recruitment efforts to address personnel shortages and strengthen community protection. 

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