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County Commission honors retiring Hart Springs Manager Mitchell Gentry

By John Ayers
The Gilchrist County Commission opened their meeting with prayer and the salute to the American flag on Monday, August 19, in the Commission Meeting Facility in Trenton. Chairman Gray called the meeting to order as all five board members were in attendance. The Chairman recognized retiring Hart Springs Park Manager Mitchell Gentry and his wife Theresa as they came forward to accept a plaque thanking Mr Gentry for his service to Gilchrist County and the great job he has done at Hart Springs. Commissioner Thomas explained that Mitch has made Hart Spring what it is today, his hard work and devotion to the park, the improvements and the relationships with the park guests has made the park a very popular vacation location for the entire year. County Administrator Bobby Crosby explained that he talked with a county resident the other day and the person stated, “Mr Gentry has done a good job as manager of Hart Springs, he has left it much better than he found it,” Thanks.
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Ray Rauscher of Rock Bluff asked the Commission if Gilchrist County would be receiving some tax benefit from the new Trenton Solar Plant that is being constructed now by Duke Energy on property between CR 307A and US 129 just north of Trenton. The Chairman indicated that yes, Gilchrist County would receive a monetary benefit from the operation of the new industrial complex, but it was not expected to be completed until late 2020.
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County Administrator Bobby Crosby began his report with the Gilchrist County Road Department and the bid received from Jenkins Painting Inc. of Chiefland to stripe CR 337, SE 70th from SR 26 north to the intersection of CR 232 in Gilchrist County. Mr. Crosby explained that this was the only bid for this project that was received by the Road Department. Commissioners Langford and Thomas, the representatives from District 5 and District 1 respectfully asked the County Administrator to contact other striping companies to receive competitive bids, before the board takes any action on this project. Commissioner Langford stated that this portion of the highway is very dark, she asked if reflectors could be included in the price to improve the highway for nighttime driving. The County Administrator will request additional bids from out of the area highway painting contractors.
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The County Administrator reported that Gilchrist County had received a Department of Health grant for $20,000 to provide Mosquito spraying service in Gilchrist County. The county had recently purchased new spraying equipment with funds from this grant. The county received a quote for Fyfanon, a chemical used to spray for mosquitoes from Adapco for $11,770.50. Commissioner Thomas made a motion to approve the purchase of the chemical from Adapco and dispense with the normal bidding requirements. Commissioner Poitevint gave a second to the motion for the approval of this product. The Commission approved the purchase by a unanimous vote.
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Mr Crosby reported that Gilchrist County has received an invitation to send a team of representatives to the 2020 Rural counties Day, January 15-16, 2020 in Tallahassee. Donna Creamer, a staff assistant to the County Administrator reported that the Gilchrist County team would include: Commissioner Gray, County Administrator Crosby, Pat Watson and herself. This team would provide a booth representing Gilchrist County and the many attractions that this beautiful rural area has to offer. She explained that the cost would could be covered from funds by the Nature Coast program to pay for the over night fees while staying at the state capital. Commissioner Martin made a motion to approve the request to have the Gilchrist County team represent Gilchrist County during the 2020 Rural Counties Day at the state capital. Commissioner Langford gave a second to the motion before the Commission adopted the action by a unanimous vote.
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Mr. Crosby reported that an update involving the improvements of SW 80th, a graded road that travels north from Hart Springs connecting several county residents to their homes and camps that are located along the Suwannee River. This county road travels through certain flood prone areas that Gilchrist County wanted to raise the road to reduce the flooding and displacement of these people from being able to travel to and from their residence during high water. Mr. Crosby’s communication with the Suwannee River Water Management District involving the county’s request was not met with favorable approval. The Water Management District instructed the County to prepare and submit a plan involving the roadway and the board would review the proposal for consideration.
Mr Crosby also reported that the county was working on a plan to improve the boat ramp area for public use at Waters Lake Park, in eastern Gilchrist.
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Gilchrist Clerk of Court, Todd Newton reported on the official population estimate for Gilchrist County as of April 1, 2019 is 17,766, that was prepared by the University of Florida, Bureau of Economic & Business Research. The county’s preliminary population estimate for state revenue sharing in fiscal year 2020-2021 is 16,980. Gilchrist County has an incarcerated population of 786 inmates. A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve the population estimate received from the University of Florida and Commissioner Martin agreed with a second before the board approved the motion by a unanimous vote.
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The Clerk of Court reported that the county received three quotes for sealed bids for $225,000 fixed rate interest loan for the reconstruction of the courthouse roof and the replacement of windows. The loan requested terms of 5, 10, and 20 year periods of repayment. Mr Newton reported the bids received were from Ameris Bank for 2.478% - 5 years, 2.625% -10 years, 2.80% -20 years. Capital City Bank for 2.99% – 5 years. Drummond Community Bank 3.0% - 5 years, 3.22%-10 years and 3.74% - 20 years. The Clerk recommended the Commission go with Ameris Bank for a period of 10 years with a loan rate of 2.625%. Commissioner Martin made a motion to approve the bid from Ameris Bank for 2.625% for 10 years. Commissioner Langford gave a second to the motion before the board approved the action by a 5-0 vote.

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