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A Gilchrist resident complains of air cannon noise, families want peace and quiet

A Gilchrist County resident, Felicia Jascelyn told the Gilchrist County Commission during the Monday afternoon meeting that a loud air cannon has been going off at all times of the night and it is keeping her family and others residents awake in the rural areas of Gilchrist County. Ms Jascelyn, a resident of 4149 SE 57th in District 5, explained she lives 1-2 miles away from the loud noise, but it still sounds like it is next door to her families’ residence. She pointed out that many neighbors in her area want something done about this loud noise that goes off 4-5 times a minute, all night long. “We can’t sleep, our children are upset and scared; can something be done to stop this noise,” she asked? She reported that she has called the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office to ask them to quiet this noise. The Sheriff’s Office referred her to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The state agency won’t take any action to stop the air cannon from going off at night, she said.
Commissioner Kenrick Thomas, who represents District 5 in Gilchrist County, explained that he had talked with the farmer from Gilchrist County and the air cannon goes off to scare the white tail deer. The local farmer reported that he has an estimated 200 acres of watermelons planted in this area and the white tail deer are destroying the plants. The farmer has leased the property from Florida Renewable Partners, Gilchrist County Solar, LLC and the landowner does not allow guns to be used or brought onto their property.
The farmer told Commissioner Thomas that in the past, the watermelon grower gets permits from FWC to reduce the population of deer in the area in order to grow a crop of watermelons. Since FRP Solar LLC does not allow guns on the property, the farmer’s only alternative is to use the air cannon to scare the deer away from the young tender watermelon plants. Commissioner Thomas reported that the farmer estimates he has $174,000 in plants growing in just this 200-acre field. Right now the plants are small with 4-5 leaves on each plant. Commissioner Thomas explained that as the plant grows and has runners 2-3 feet in length, the deer are not as apt to kill a plant if they eat 2-3 leaves. Right now when the deer eat 2-3 leaves from a small plant, this will kill the plant, and destroy the farmers’ crop.
Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby explained that the air cannon that is making this loud noise is exempt from the Gilchrist County Noise Ordinance because it is being used in an acceptable agriculture practice.
Commissioner Bill Martin explained that air cannons are often used in aquaculture production to scare birds away from fish farms.
Ms. Jascelyn told the Commission that she and her neighbors wanted something done about this; to keep this from happening in the future to residents living in these rural areas.
Commission Chairperson Sharon Langford thanked Ms. Jascelyn for speaking to the board about this issue. The Commission Chairperson explained that Ms Jascelyn has had 3 minutes to bring her request to the board and now the meeting must move on. The Commission took no action on the request made by the Gilchrist County resident.
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The Gilchrist County Commission took action to advertise for bids for the construction of an addition that would place inmate pods with the current Gilchrist County Jail. Commissioner Darrell Smith, a member of the Jail Correctional Committee asked Mr Crosby, how long would it take for the construction bids to be received?
Mr. Crosby estimated that it would take 60 days before the bids could be returned to the Committee. Mr. Crosby explained that Gilchrist County could request that the bids received, would be good for a 90-day time period.
Gilchrist County has been working with Rutherford and Associates Architects of Tallahassee, which has been providing plans for the multi-pod design correctional facility. The architectural firm reported to the Commission in 2020 that the estimated cost of construction would be $8 million dollars.
Commissioner Darrell Smith gave a motion for the Commission to go forward to advertise for bids for the actual cost of this new jail facility, in an expanded property, located at the present location in Trenton. Commissioner Kenrick Thomas gave a second to the motion. The Commission approved the motion by a 5-0 vote.
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Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz addressed the Commission to report that the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office is going through a time period when new people are being hired and many people are retiring and the Sheriff’s Office will have new faces in public places. The Chief Law Enforcement officer of Gilchrist County introduced Deputy Stalvey and reported that he will be attending the Gilchrist County Commission meetings and will also be working in the Gilchrist County Courthouse. The Sheriff asked for the cooperation of the public and pointed out that most of the new faces are involved in our Criminal Investigations Division of the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff thanked the Commission for supporting the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office.
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County Administrator Bobby Crosby recommended Mr. Rodney Tomlinson be hired by the Commission as the new Gilchrist County Service Technician (Code Enforcement officer). Mr. Crosby explained that Mr. Tomlinson has recently retired and has a vast background in corrections. Mr. Tomlinson addressed the Commission and explained that he is happy to be working with Gilchrist County. Commissioner Bill Martin made a motion to hire Rodney Tomlinson as the County Service Technician. Commissioner Darrell Smith gave a second to the action before the board approved the motion by a unanimous vote.
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The County Administrator reported that Gilchrist County did not receive any RFQs back for the requests that were made for identified road striping projects in Gilchrist County. He pointed out that since Gilchrist County had advertised for bids and none were received, the County could now contact a local paint stripping company on a single project. Mr. Crosby explained that he would contact Jenkins Painting Inc. and ask for a bid on a specific project. When he receives the price for the project, he would then present the bid and the project to the Commission for discussion. Commissioner Kenrick Thomas made a motion to approve JPI for road stripping projects for staff to present bids to the Commission and the board discuss and approve the bid estimate, before the work begins. Commissioner Marion Poitevint gave a second to the motion before the board approved the request by a 5-0 vote.

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