Hawthorne keeps Randall as mayor, approves equipment purchase

Hawthorne Mayor Jacquelyn Randall sits behind the dais.
Hawthorne Mayor Jacquelyn Randall was selected to another term at the June 18, 2024, meeting.
Photo by Seth Johnson

The city of Hawthorne will continue under Mayor Jacquelyn Randall and Vice Mayor Patricia Bouie-Hutchinson’s leadership after a City Commission vote Tuesday night.  

The unanimous votes keep the two commissioners in their current positions for the next year.  

Randall said there would be some hard requests of the commission in the coming year, but she said if they trust her to make the right choices, then she’d continue in the role.

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The commission also approved $120,000 for a backhoe purchase, set aside funds to paint the event center at Little Orange Creek Nature Park and voted to join the city of Gainesville’s debris monitoring contract.  

The event center at Little Orange Creek Nature Park needs a refresh, and the Gator Gobblers who often use the space offered to pay for it. The estimated cost is $10,750, and the commission approved the colors on Tuesday—an off-white color for building and dark gray for the trim.  

The city also decided to use Wild Spaces Public Places funds to pay for half of the project. City Manager John Martin said the Gator Gobblers, the local chapter for the National Wild Turkey Federation that hosts hunts and events, had said they could use the other part of their funds for other improvements.  

The city has reviewed quotes from Caterpillar and John Deere for the purchase of a new backhoe. Commissioners reviewed them, along with warranty options, at Tuesday’s meeting but decided to let city staff make the final decision.  

The City Commission approved the $120,000 as a maximum, with Commissioner Tommie Howard in dissent.  

Howard said he didn’t want the city to invest in a piece of equipment that might end up sitting unused. However, Martin said the old backhoe stopped working after years of work, not because it sat rusting away for decades.  

Vice Mayor Patricia Bouie-Hutchinson sits behind the dais.
Photo by Seth Johnson Vice Mayor Patricia Bouie-Hutchinson speaks at Hawthorne’s June 18, 2024, meeting.

The old backhoe was a John Deere, and a representative said the old bucket and rake should fit on a new model, potentially saving money. City staff will continue working with the companies for a purchase, a process in the works for the past six months.  

The city didn’t get a grant from the USDA, but Martin said the city has filled out the application for another grant that could cover some of the purchase cost.  

Hawthorne has used Alachua County’s debris monitoring contract to track debris pickup after storms. The monitoring factors into FEMA payouts, he said.  

But the county’s contract has expired. Until then, the county has piggybacked on the city of Gainesville’ contract for debris monitoring and recommended Hawthorne take the same step.  

The contract process for the county could take several months, and with storm season here, the services might be needed before a new vendor is selected and hired.  

The City Commission also discussed providing funds to the School Board of Alachua County to help with maintenance at the Hawthorne High School football stadium.  

Hawthorne’s city attorney cautioned that public funds need to serve a public purpose. Since the city doesn’t own the property, she said the city should have a written contract with the school district if it proceeded with the fund idea. 

Randall said she wanted to hear the conversation coming out of the school district before committing anything.  

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