Hourly News Update
By James Torrez and Cristina Mendez on November 19th, 2014 | Last updated: November 19, 2014 at 2:11 pm
By Paris Tyburski on November 19th, 2014 | Last updated: November 19, 2014 at 11:56 am
The Historic Thomas Center is a significant cultural site purchased by the city of Gainesville in 1973. One of its main icons is a fountain said to date back to the period between 1928 and 1968, a time when the Center functioned as a hotel — some experts believe it was constructed when soldiers returned home after World War II.
Erica Chatman, the facilities director at the Thomas Center, said, “Practically everyone in the community has been here at some point to take a picture in front of the fountain, and there are a lot of people who are emotionally really attached to the fountain and the grounds in general.”
Because of years of deterioration, though, the Thomas Center has applied for a $75,000-grant from the Division of Historical Resources Bureau of Historic Preservation to restore the fountain. The Thomas Center also had to match 25 percent of the funds in its own budget to be considered eligible by the Florida Department of State.
Cracks around the bowl at the base of the fountain are causing leaks, which damage the ground, and four faces that should shoot water out of their mouths have been shut off — the damage from the cracks cause the water to shoot from all directions.
“If the grant is approved,” Chatman said, “it will allow us, on the interior, to rework all of the actual mechanical parts and the mechanisms that make the fountain run with modern-day parts to make it more efficient.”
Gainesville City Commissioner Randy Wells submitted a letter of recommendation toward the grant. “The fountain is one element of a much larger garden and a beautiful building,” Wells said. “I think it is very important to keep historic sites like this one restored.”
The grant would provide all of the money needed to repair the fountain. The state will be reviewing the grant application during the second week in December. Until a decision is made, the fountain will still be actively running.
By Kathryn Williams on November 19th, 2014 | Last updated: November 19, 2014 at 10:37 am
Cindy Kabiru produced this update.
By Maria Valencia on November 18th, 2014 | Last updated: November 18, 2014 at 4:34 pm
After learning about the Bo Diddley Community Plaza redevelopment efforts coming early 2015, local Gainesville market vendors are raising concern about the possibility of being relocated to a different area.
Among the more than 60 vendors who congregate at the plaza for the Union Street Farmers Market every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. in downtown Gainesville, two business owners see how the move will negatively affect their livelihood.
Pat McCarthy, owner of Nana Pat’s Goodies, said that if the market is disrupted she is sure she will lose sales.
“It’s one of the two markets I do every week,” McCarthy said. “It’s actually my best market – it’s my biggest income.”
Marianne Melendez, co-owner of The Dragon’s Hoard LLC, said that each week at the market is either a half or a third of what she makes that week.
Melendez said she would try to look for another Wednesday market if the downtown one were to shut down, but there aren’t very many.
“It would hurt my business a lot if they shut down this market,” Melendez said. “There are plenty of farmers markets but this has got to be the best, and it’s because of location, location, location. It’s not hard to find.”
Trisha Ingle, a Gainesville resident and regular patron of the farmers market, said she is very dependent on the market, as she buys her sausage, vegetables, soap, mustard, gluten-free products and plants there.
“Some of it is stuff that I won’t be able to get elsewhere,” Ingle said. “I’ll either have to do without or make special arrangements with the vendors.”
Besides being a threshold for the patrons and the market, the plaza also hosts many annual festivals, like the Labor Daze Fest and the Gainesville Pride Festival.
“I’m not only at the farmers market but I’m down there for other festivals as a vendor, too,” McCarthy said. “I’ve been at every single Labor Daze since it’s been there. Each one of those festivals will bring me in two weeks’ worth of income from farmers markets in one day.”
McCarthy said she has also been involved in convention and festival organizing in the past and knows how a year’s absence can lead a festival into its demise.
“Missing one year because your site is not available can kill a festival because you don’t have your income, you lose your vendors and the people who are involved,” McCarthy said.
According to Charlie Lybrand, the director of the Union Street Farmers Market, he has been trying to coordinate a location that will accommodate not just the market, but other events that take place on the plaza, in addition to keeping it within a couple of blocks of where it has been.
“That’s the main goal: to try to keep it in the real downtown area,” Lybrand said.
However, McCarthy is also concerned about whether or not the customers will follow the vendors to a new site.
“I’m concerned that there’s not really another space like the plaza, where festivals and these sorts of things, that bring people together can move to,” McCarthy said. “There’s a lot of community involvement in that space, and I’m just not seeing a plan from the city to harbor that and continue those efforts.”
McCarthy said she also doesn’t see the need for a remodel because she thinks that the plaza is in fine condition.
“Maintenance is one thing but tearing things apart and building new things seems to be a use of the money that doesn’t seem to be really needed when the city has so many other real needs, like road repairs,” McCarthy said.
Ingle said she also doesn’t see the need for the plaza renovations.
“I think it’s a bad idea and a waste of money, “ Ingle said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
By Emma Neagu, Shahd Ellamey and Jonathan Muñoz on November 18th, 2014 | Last updated: November 18, 2014 at 4:15 pm
By Nathalie Dortonne on November 18th, 2014 | Last updated: November 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm
Nathalie Dortonne and Billy Jean Louis produced this update.
By Kaitlyn Pearson on November 17th, 2014 | Last updated: November 17, 2014 at 5:01 pm
After the University of Florida confirmed reports that head coach Will Muschamp will be dismissed from the his position on Sunday, a press conference was held Monday to discuss the future of the Florida football team. Jeremy Foley, the University of Florida’s Athletic Director, said the search for a new coach will begin immediately. Ideally, he’d like to have a new coach by Christmas.
“We need to have a coach who has a track record of success on the offensive side of the ball,” Foley said. “Muschamp epitomizes integrity,” which is what Foley said he will be looking for in Florida’s next head coach.
Although, he will rely heavily on internal staff during the search, Foley and current university president Bernie Machen will make the final decision with some input from incoming president Kent Fuchs.
“From my perspective as president, I have treasured the last four years with Will,” Machen said.
Muschamp said he doesn’t know what will happen following the next two weeks, but he can’t imagine doing anything other than coaching since his impact with players goes beyond Saturday’s game. He stands by his original statement that he simply did not win enough football games.
“You have to have results in life … You have to produce,” Muschamp said. “If you’re a football coach, you need to win.”
In order for Muschamp to have remained Florida’s head coach, Foley said Muschamp needed to have generated positive momentum. But Florida’s 23-20 overtime loss against South Carolina on Saturday was a step in the wrong direction.
After the game, Muschamp said he knew there was a possibility that he would lose his job, but he felt that he’d been treated fairly.
“I don’t leave with any hard feelings or regrets at all,” he said.
Max Garcia, a senior offensive lineman, said he learned about Muschamp’s dismissal while he was at church.
“I got the alert on my ESPN app while I was at church actually,” Garcia said. “It just popped up on my phone, and after church, they told us that we had a 1 p.m. team meeting.”
When Muschamp broke the news to the team Sunday afternoon, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Chaz Green said it was very tough.
“It was something that we were kind of ready for, just given all the buzz,” Green said. “We knew how important it was to get that SC (South Carolina) win, that’s why it was so heartbreaking the way that it ended.”
Green said the team felt they let the coach down, but they know Muschamp does not want them to carry the blame. Green said the team wants to dedicate the last two football games to Muschamp.
“I don’t think he wants us to feel like we have that pressure placed on us every day and that we’re playing for him,” Green said. “In the back of our minds, we knew the circumstances, and we definitely wanted to get that win.”