Commissioner walks in shoes of the homeless

Published: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 2:49 a.m.
Braving the recent cold weather, Alachua County Commissioner Rodney Long spent a few nights meeting on the streets with some of Gainesville's homeless people. Now he wants to come to their rescue.
Long came away chilled by what the homeless must endure and the continuing inability of the community to find a solution.
"We've got to do a better job in this community of dealing with our homeless population. It's deplorable, the conditions that our homeless population is experiencing on nights when the temperature is 28 degrees," Long said at a commission meeting last week. "We need to start working along with those agencies that are trying to find alternative shelters and safe spaces for our homeless. This is a countywide issue, not just the city of Gainesville issue. We need to be involved in that process. They city is struggling with the process and by them struggling, nothing is getting done."
  • Lights, camera, Emmy awards: First came the mildly Hollywoodish premiere at the Hippodrome. Now come the Emmy awards.
    "Wild Alachua," a half-hour film funded by the Alachua County Commission and the county Tourist Development Council, has won two regional Emmy awards.
    The film introduces viewers to the culture and history of the county with footage and narratives about Devil's Millhopper, the home of writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and breathtaking aquatic shots 2,000 feet into a spring. It was produced by the Florida Museum of Natural History with filmmakers Leslie Gaines, Stephen Robitaille and Wes Skiles.
    "We were jumping up and down when we learned about it. It really will increase the demand for the video to be on public television statewide. If that happens, we really expect an influx of visitors," said Roland Loog, director of the county Visitors and Convention Bureau. "It was fun putting this together. It had a little feeling of Hollywood because we actually did a grand showing. We played it up a little bit."
  • Financial fireworks: Its task sounds like a yawner - guiding and advising the Alachua County Commission on sound fiscal practices and cost cutting.
    But considering the make-up of the blue ribbon committee charged with the task by the commission last week, it has the potential to be a barn-burner.
    Establishment figures such as former state university system chancellor E.T. York and former Gainesville mayor Paula Delaney are on there. So is Alachua City Commissioner Tamara Robbins. Developers such as Pete Enwall was named, as was Green Party activist Rob Brinkman.
    The commission was so enthused with the 18 applications that came in by the deadline - and two that came in after - that it expanded the number of positions from 15 to 20 so everyone could join.
    "This is going to be a lively committee," said Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut.
  • Quote of the week: "I try not to get testy in my rhetoric. It's not deliberate. Well, sometimes it is." Gainesville City Commissioner Ed Braddy, before responding to another commissioner's comments during a heated discussion about whether RVs could be parked in front of houses.
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