History, Business Development & Family
by Trish Utter
The Fletcher family name has become a household name in the Gainesville area for their land development and real estate projects. They are also well known around the State of Florida for their philanthropy. The Fletchers have a passion for development and building – taking raw land and transforming it into beautiful subdivisions. Gainesville locals are familiar with Fletcher’s Mill which is located on Newberry Road, west of I-75. The location of Fletcher’s Mill was the heart of the family’s agricultural industry and the location of the family sawmill.
The legacy of the Fletcher family in Florida dates back all the way to the mid 1800’s. George E. “Cotton” Fletcher‘s father was an entrepreneur that had moved from St. Petersburg to Newberry, Florida in 1931. I asked Cotton how he got his unusual name, he smiled and said that when he was a baby he had white hair so everyone started calling him Cotton Head, the name stuck.
When Cotton was 11 years old the family moved from Newberry to a 2,000 acre farm and ranch where they ran cattle, grew corn, tobacco and vegetables. The Fletchers also harvested and milled timber for warehouses, sheds and cattle pens. Some of that lumber was used to build the Fletcher’s John Deere Tractor dealership in Newberry. An additional 1,000 acres was leased for more cattle that stretched from Jonesville to North Florida Hospital. Cotton said, “Dad was a true businessman, when he saw an opening for business Dad would go for it. He shipped watermelons, squash, cucumbers, peppers and corn up north”.
Cotton attended Newberry Elementary School, Gainesville High School, Florida Southern College in Lakeland and the University of Florida. Fletcher enlisted in the United States Air Force and was selected to attend officer candidate school and in 1953 upon completion became an Air Force 2nd Lieutenant at the age of twenty two. He then worked at the family’s John Deere Tractor dealership until they sold it in 1986. “By 1986 I was already developing residential subdivisions. “My first development was Pine Hill Estates on Newberry Road in 1960. I have continued to develop as sole owner or a principle in 25 residential subdivisions, built hundreds of homes, one 320 unit apartment complex, and several commercial and office properties. I continued in the Air Force Reserves until 1975, retiring with the rank of Major.”
Cotton has been heavily involved in our community, always giving to charitable organizations such as PALS. Mr. Fletcher has served on many boards and committees. Cotton served as Division Chairman for The United Way from 1968 – 1971. In 1969 Cotton was appointed by the Alachua County Commission to serve as a Trustee for Alachua General Hospital. He was a board member of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce from 1978 – 1980; a Founding Board Member of the Council of Economic Outreach; Chairman of Alachua General Hospital – Wellness, Inc. from 1980 – 1982; Chairman of the Farm Equipment Dealers Association of the State of Florida; a board member of the State of Florida Lottery Commission from 1990 – 1995. He is presently serving as a member of the Board of Directors of Santa Fe Healthcare, successor of Alachua General Hospital.
Now Cotton Fletcher works with his son Blake and daughter-in-law Ashley. Blake graduated Oak Hall School in Gainesville and Millsap College in Mississippi. Blake Fletcher has an impressive business background that even included an internship with Merrill-Lynch in New York. Blake serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the Fletcher Family Companies; the companies have a primary focus of single family developments but also include some smaller commercial developments, a construction company, a property management company and other investment interests.
Blake is active in the community serving two terms on the Metropolitan Transportation Advisory Board’s Citizen Advisory Committee, volunteering with the PALS organization, serving on the Newberry-Jonesville Chamber Board from 2010 – 2016 and as president for three years from 2011-2013, serving on Alarion Bank’s advisory committee from 2012-2014, a graduate of the Business Community Coalitions Public Leadership Institute, Leadership Gainesville and Connect Florida, in 2013 joined the Builders Association of North Central Florida Board of Directors, Business in the Heart of Florida 40 under 40 award winner, Business Community Coalition Advisory Board. In 2015 Governor Scott appointed Blake to the Santa Fe College District Board of Trustees.
Ashley Fletcher grew up in Fort Lauderdale and has worked in the property management industry for more than a decade. In 2014 she formed the home owners association property management division of W Group Property Management, LLC (the Fletcher Family’s property management company) Ashley currently serves as an advisory committee member of the Ronald McDonald House.
The Fletcher family name has become a household name in the Gainesville area for their land development and real estate projects.
They are also well known around the State of Florida for their philanthropy.
In early 2015 the Fletcher family lost a vital member of the team – Gloria Williamson Fletcher – the matriarch of the Fletcher family. Gloria’s Way was named in her memory. In early 2017 Gloria’s Way, (located in Jonesville), will offer 42 luxury home sites.
Gloria was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but raised in Gainesville by her parents Bill and Lillian Williamson. She attended Gainesville High School, and received an AA/AS degree from Santa Fe Community College, followed by a BA from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She received her Juris Doctor degree in 1985 from the University of Florida Law School.
She was employed by the State of Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services in 1977 as a Mental Health Program Specialist, later rising to the position of Program Supervisor and, in 1982, Program Coordinator overseeing an $83M budget and 3200 employees in 16 counties including and surrounding Alachua County and Gainesville.
After her graduation from law school Gloria was an Assistant State Attorney for five years until entering private practice until her passing. As a private attorney she specialized in children’s rights litigation, criminal defense and representing law enforcement.
Gloria is missed every day.
Some of the Boards and Committees She Served On:
- The United Way
- Juvenile Justice Committee
- Florida Children First – Vice Chair
- Partners for Adolescent Lifestyles
- Alarion Bank – Founding Board Member
- Citizens Insurance Florida
- Judicial Nominating Committee
“My wife and I purchased in Fletcher’s Mill in February 2007. We purchased and moved into a Fletcher Community, because we knew from friends and others that Mr. Fletcher built quality neighborhoods. The neighborhood we purchased was a perfect fit for us, because it is a diverse neighborhood with a great mix of people from all walks of life. The layout of the neighborhood is awesome because it allows walking and the ability to mix with your neighbors throughout the development. Our development has been around for a long time and it still looks as great today as it did the day it opened. Everything was planned and put into place for the long term. We are very happy and pleased with Fletcher’s Mill.”
- Jeff Brooker
“Our experience with Savannah Station has been more than wonderful from the very beginning. Blake Fletcher was very patient with us while we sold our previous home and allowed us to hold on to our choice of lots. We love our Shenandoah model even more today than when we chose it nearly 2 years ago. Eric Gonzalez took really good care of us throughout the building process keeping us informed along the way. Patrick Currie, Bosshardt Realty, kept everything in order from start to finish always being there when we needed him. We believe we chose the BEST when we chose Savannah Station! We LOVE our home!!!”
-Tony and Carol Reynolds
Fletcher Oaks is their latest venture of the Fletcher family. Because of the high standards and reputation of the Fletcher companies over half of the lots are already sold to local builders with homes underway; ready to be moved into late Spring. This subdivision is located on scenic Glen Springs Road, a short walk from Glen Springs Elementary School. This fantastic central Gainesville location in minutes from UF, Shands and the airport. There are many restaurants and supermarkets close by as well. Although it is in the middle of Gainesville you feel that you are in the country with its huge Live Oaks. It is great that the Fletchers have carefully kept the landscape intact.
Fletcher Oaks Homes
- Ranging from $250,000-$350,000
- 55 Home sites
- 3-4 Bedrooms
- 1,597 – 2,261 sq ft
- Community Maintained Rear and Front Yards
- Upgraded Interior Features
The Fletcher family also offers other communities that will fit any budget:
Savannah Station, Alachua
with homes from the mid $100’s
Gloria’s Way – Coming in early 2017.
Homes starting in the mid $400s.
VISIT ONE OF THEIR COMMUNITIES TODAY!
3651 NW 26th Street Gainesville, FL 32605
Where are you from?
I am from Boston, Massachusetts and moved to Florida to open a restaurant company.
How do you relax?
By riding my mountain bike at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park.
Do you have pets?
Yes, a dog. At one point I had four rescue dogs. Now I have Thelma, a 14 year old, 120lb sweetheart.
What gadget can’t you live without?
My Garmin G.P.S. for my bike.
What is your favorite beauty product?
Got 2 Be Glued, it’s a glue for my hair.
What is in your fridge?
Coke Zero, fruit, tofu and carrot juice.
What has your best financial investment been?
My best financial investment has been people. I do not have millions in the bank, but I do have some very special people that have been with me in my professional career since my arrival in Florida 14 years ago… Elana, Blake, Justin and little Rick.
Do you have a favorite quote?
When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you!!
What is your favorite clothing store?
Nordstroms, Gap and the Loft.
Who inspired you as a child?
My Nana Deneno who was Italian and taught me how to cook.
What was your first job?
I was a Roll Girl, I passed out bread rolls and butter at a high end restaurant. It was my first job in a restaurant. (We do not mean family or education.)
What is your favorite thing to do in Gainesville?
A long bicycle ride.
What type of music do you listen to?
Classic Rock, I love The Beatles.
What is your favorite movie?
What drives you crazy?
People that don’t listen…and germs.
What was your first car?
A maroon Karmann Ghia, I loved that little car.
What is your favorite meal?
An arugula, kale salad with crasins and red wine vinaigrette and a little shaved parmesan cheese and pan sautéed coconut crusted tofu on top.
Do you dream of sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari or pass a jar of Grey Poupon in your Rolls? Well now you can get a close up look at your dream car. Millions of dollars’ worth of automobiles will be on display at the annual Festivals of Speed, March, 11 and 12 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, which sits right on the rugged coast of the Atlantic, just a few miles north of Jacksonville FL. The property at the Plantation will be littered with exotic supercars such as, Lamborghini’s, R8’s, Ferraris, Pagani’s, antique cars, watercraft, custom motorcycles and some of the most unique vehicles you can imagine.
I asked Joe Sabatini who founded and runs the event a few questions.
Q-How many years has this show been going on?
A-The first one was in St. Petersburg 12 years ago.
Q-What is the most amazing car you have seen at the show and why?
A- I’ve seen just about every major supercar and the one that really stands out is the PAGANI HUAYRA it’s a work of art in a car and everyone has their own idea of the perfect car. It’s the fact that the man behind the car is very interesting and many consider him to be a renaissance man. He has created what many people only dream of. In an age of mass production he stands out by making a hand built work of art.
Q-Who usually goes to Festivals of Speed?
A-Our attendees are very interesting people from all walks of life. Car enthusiasts, people that are interested in art, families as well as many celebrities that show up at our receptions and auto events. Dwight Howard the basketball player, Colby Boothman from Jurassic World, entertainers, musicians, television actors it goes on and on.
Q- What was the most unusual thing that happened at an event?
A-We had a guy dressed like James Bond land his fighter jet in the middle of our luxury lifestyle jetport reception and taxi right into the aircraft hangar then pop the canopy and get out. He unzipped his flight suit and had a tuxedo underneath and opened a bottle of champagne from the cockpit in front of 600 guests. That was awesome!
Our luxury lifestyle cocktail reception is not to be missed on Friday night. Only the best wines, craft cocktails and craft beers are served. There will be a live Sinatra style band, an amazing display of exotic cars, motorcycles, luxury brands and more. The guests are the Who’s Who of the automotive world and media come from all over the country to capture all the action.
Tip-Take YOUR CAMERA!
by Ruth Ward
On March 5, 2016 the 44th annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race will start in Anchorage, Alaska. The dog teams will run a thousand miles until they reach the finish line in Nome almost 2 weeks later. The teams run in the most extreme weather conditions, temperatures as cold as -50 degrees F, bitter winds and rough terrain, and they love it! Sled dog racing is an extreme sport; all alone, the dogs and the mushers face danger and challenging conditions in the Alaskan wilderness. Success and survival depend on the skills and “grit” of both the musher and the dogs, and teamwork. Blizzards, grizzly bears, a broken sled or harness, and injuries are challenges the musher and dogs must face. It is inspiring and uplifting to hear so many stories of dogs that rise to the challenge of getting a team out of danger. It is the ultimate partnership of humans and animals!
For Dr. Kathy Vliet being selected last year to be one of the 50 veterinarians volunteering for the Iditarod was a dream come true. Dr. Vliet co-owns Jonesville Animal Hospital with Dr. Jill Lerman in Newberry. Dr. Vliet was born in Florida, and has lived here most of her life. Working in temperatures of -40 F was a daunting prospect. “I didn’t know if I could find clothes warm enough to work for hours in those temperatures! How would I examine a dog with gloves on? Actually, it never occurred to me that my stethoscope would freeze after examining just 2 dogs, and I would have to put it inside my coat to warm up!” But it turned out to be such a fulfilling experience, she is going back this year.
Dr. Vliet became hooked on the sport of sled dog racing because it is such an inspirational example of the bond between dogs and a person. The mushers love their dogs. They are family members! The welfare of the dogs is always their primary concern. During the race, the dogs run variable distances from one checkpoint to the next. At each checkpoint the dogs are fed, examined by a veterinarian, and sometimes bedded down for a rest. The mushers get a meal, and maybe a few hours of sleep. Taking care of 16 tired, hungry sled dogs is a big job! It takes well over an hour to get all the dogs bedded down, fed, and address any medical concerns identified by the veterinarians. These folks would not even think of coming in for a cup of coffee until their dogs have eaten a warm gruel and are snuggled in their straw bed fast asleep.
Racing dogs eat 8,000 to 10,000 calories a day!!! The average sled dog is 45 lbs. One of our pet dogs of that size would eat about 1,000 calories a day. Providing adequate calories for a working sled dog is a challenge. Their diet consists of mostly fat. When the dogs first arrive at a checkpoint they are given frozen steaks of meat or fish to gnaw on while other chores are done. It takes a while to prepare a warm meal for 16 dogs. Chunks of fat are added to the protein in the gruel to provide calories. The dogs love it, and they thrive. The veterinary team examines every dog at each checkpoint. The mushers tell the vets about problems they have noticed on the trail, and all the dogs get a full exam. Every exam is documented in a “vet book” carried by the mushers. At each check point the veterinarians can reference previous medical problems and treatments. The majority of problems are minor and the dogs are able to continue racing. If however, the veterinarian or the musher think the dog should not continue racing, the dog is left at the checkpoint, and the veterinary team takes care of the dog until the end of the race. The dogs are medically treated for any illness or injury, fed, and flown back to Anchorage to the main veterinary facility. In the rare event a dog is critical, the nearest plane is diverted to that check point, and the dog is flown immediately to Anchorage for emergency care. All of the veterinary care for these dogs during the race is provided by the volunteer veterinary team. The health and well-being of the Iditarod sled dogs is exceptional thanks to the hard work and dedication of Dr. Stuart Nelson. For the past 20 years. Stu (everyone calls him that) has developed a training program for the mushers and veterinarians to help ensure that there is minimal illness and injury for these extreme, 4-legged athletes. Detailed statistics have been compiled for the past 20 years about all aspects of sled dog performance. Extensive research is aimed at discovering why these superior athletes are so different from other dogs, comparable to thoroughbred race horses and Tour de France cyclists.
Dr. Vliet says, “I am looking forward to a unique adventure this year! No one can predict the weather, or what will happen when embarking on a 1,000 mile race across the Alaskan wilderness with 78 or so teams of sled dogs! Last year, the race was started in Fairbanks because there was no snow in Anchorage. It was such a feat to move all the dogs, supplies and staff to a new location at the last minute. That’s the way it is in Alaska, the weather rules, and the Alaskans are remarkably capable and able to triumph when presented with a challenge. The hard working, neighborly, rugged and capable Alaskans are as much a part of allure of the Iditarod as the beautiful, sweet energetic and intelligent sled dogs.
It is important to make sure you are up to date with vaccines. Hitchcock’s pharmacy staff are well trained and know your families medical needs. No lines, no waiting and good advice even over the phone.
Hitchcock’s Pharmacists are advising their clients to check this very important vaccine list so you stay healthy and keep living … the Good Life!
1. Hepatitis B series of three injections can begin in childhood, or as an adult.
2. Influenza (flu shot) is a yearly vaccination usually recommended in October or November for peak coverage. It lasts about 6 months. It is important for people with other disease states such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, to receive this shot.
3. Shingles – Zostivax is the newest vaccine. It should be administered if the adult had Chicken Pox as a child, and is given to prevent the onset of Shingles.
4. HPV is a series of 3 injec-tions and usually starts around 12 or 13 for young women and men. It protects against the transmission of Papillomavirus. The virus is associated with sexually transmitted diseases, and even certain genital cancers and warts.
5. Pneumonia vaccine is given once every five years (or as directed by a physician) and targets people over 65, or with other disease states such as diabetes or lung disease.
Many insurance companies now pay for the Flu, and Shin-gles shot at the retail pharmacy level.
The only restrictions are pregnancy, age, steroid use, and food or drug allergies. Potential recipients are screened before vaccines are given, which leads to the best possible outcome for our patients.
The well trained Pharmacists at Hitchcock’s are ready to help you stay healthy. Before you wait hours in a doctor’s office give them a call. They can give advice and at the Newberry location they can administer the Flu and Zostivax shots.
I remember my first few days in Gainesville in 2003 when I first started seeing patients for their Radiation Oncology care. It became apparent early on that the north central Florida community was a diverse population with broad reaching concerns and needs. Through my years here, I have tried to meet those needs and have come to love this part of Florida. I am excited to be embarking on a new venture and delighted to be joining the already strong and established Radiation Oncology team of The Cancer Center at North Florida Regional Medical Center “NFRMC”.
There is a strong sense of community within the group whose focus is on the complete comprehensive care of the patient from the moment of diagnosis through the treatment and post treatment care. The Cancer Center at NFRMC offers world class doctors that provide care in both the Gainesville and Lake City areas and surrounding communities. They established a staff that provides state of the art treatment with compassionate care. I know by joining this group I will continue to be able to offer hometown care with both continuity of care of my patients as well as being able to practice with the latest advances in Radiation Oncology technology.
The Cancer Center at NFRMC, with the opening of the new 40,000 square foot expansion, housing Florida Cancer Specialists, our Medical Oncology partners, will offer a true comprehensive Cancer Center. Radiation and Medical Oncologists will be able to see patients and offer cancer treatments involving clinical trials, cancer prevention, integrative medicine, nutrition counseling and multiple other programs. This includes community outreach and educational programs. We understand that keeping patients close to their homes, families and support networks is important and by providing care in one setting helps limit the stress patients experience. The importance of having all of your oncologists available to you at one center allows the physicians, nurses and support teams to work closely together to provide the most comprehensive cancer treatment and patient care.
There’s more to treating cancer than eliminating the disease itself. The Cancer Center at NFRMC understands and provides social and emotional support to all those affected by the disease. No one person should go through cancer alone or try to navigate through multiple medical specialties. The Cancer Center at NFRMC has a dedicated nurse navigator that helps reduce barriers or eliminate them entirely. The goal is to make the transition from diagnosis to treatment smoother and simpler to help patients through recovery and healing.
We know that support for our patients extends beyond the walls of The Cancer Center and are honored to play a major role helping organizations in our community that are dedicated to cancer patients. For many years, we have given significant support to the American Cancer Society in particular, by being a part of annual ACS events such as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay for Life. Also, each October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, hundreds of pink flamingos and a giant ribbon of pink are in place at North Florida Regional’s Duck Pond in honor and support of all patients and caregivers who are Standing Up to Breast Cancer.
Physicians from The Cancer Center also participate in education and awareness programs throughout the year because the more we all know about cancer, the better our chances for early detection, treatment and survival. This exemplifies the continued growth of our community doctors’ and The Cancer Center at NFRMC.
I am honored in being able to join this wonderful group of physicians and am looking forward to continuing to be part of an extensive team of caregivers as we all continue to fight cancer together.
by Trish Utter
Your wedding day is one of the most anticipated and important days of your life. Making sure that everything is done well and exactly the way you want it is paramount. This is why local bride, Christina Abramowitz put her trust in Donnie Lancaster from 6th Street Station to style her hair, do her makeup and make sure every personal detail was not overlooked on her big day.
Donnie Lancaster started over 40 years ago in Tampa and still continues his training to keep up with all the latest trends and beauty technology. He has worked with some of the best salons and designers such as Jingles, Sabastian and Paul Mitchell. This professional stylist has 10 years of makeup training from Matrix and has done many hair shows, fashion shows, balls, proms and styled hair for all kinds of functions over the years.
“ Donnie Lancaster is beyond good at what he does. He’s not only professional but he also makes you feel comfortable in every way, especially on the most important day of your life. I had him with me from the morning till the very end of my wedding touching up my hair and makeup to calming me down from time to time. Donnie has the knack to make you feel beautiful inside and out. I couldn’t have had a better stylist by my side on the best day of my life. Donnie is simply the best. ”
- Christina Abramowitz
Donnie’s Top Wedding Day Tips
Collect photos of brides and show your stylist what you do and don’t like. Do a trial run of hair and makeup on your dress fitting or portrait day. This is well worth doing. You will have time to figure out anything that should be changed. I recommend classic looks for your wedding day as you will look back at those photos for years to come. Make sure everything, including your hair is comfortable. You don’t want hair so tight it gives you a headache or shoes that look good but rub. Don’t change your look drastically, be yourself but enhance what you have. You don’t want people wondering who it is walking down the aisle!
“Many people don’t realize that my services are very affordable. You can only do your special day once so it is well worth making sure you look the way you want to. Our team will even go on location to make sure the entire bridal group is looking their best. Brides don’t want to be stressed out on such a wonderful day and we take care of that.”
Sixth Street Station
by Diana Snelgrove, E.A.
Q: I opened a small business this year; do I have to file a separate tax return?
A: There are a few different types of businesses, and whether or not you file a separate return depends on the type. The basic types are sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. Sole proprietors are the only type of business that does not require a separate return to be filed. The income and expenses of the business is filed on a Schedule C, which is attached to your personal return or Form 1040. Limited Liability Companies can elect to act like a Schedule C so they also may not be required to file a separate return if the election was chosen. All corporations and partnerships are required to file a separate return.
Q: I have a small business but I have no retirement savings. How can I begin to save for retirement?
A: There are a few options available to you as a business owner. The basic account is a Traditional IRA or a ROTH IRA, which will allow you to save up to $5,500 per year if you are under the age of 50 or $6,000 a year if over the age of 50. This is a great start but if you are looking to save more, then you do have some other options. If you are the only employee of the business you can setup a Solo 401K plan or you can look to the Simple IRA and SEP IRA which allows for employees to contribute. These retirement options have different limits and requirements, so we recommend you speak with a professional to determine the best option for you and your business.
You can contact Diana Snelgrove for more information at
email@example.com or call 386-462-3962
by Rush Ward
He served our country fighting in the army in Vietnam and was also stationed in Germany for a while. Upon his return home he started his own roofing company in Pennsylvania but his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD as it is called, was too much to handle. Louis Silvio walked away from everything and found himself living on the street in California. Louis remained homeless for twenty years. He decided to go back home to Pennsylvania and caught a ride on a truck delivering plants to Florida. The truck stopped in Ocala where he jumped off to start walking north. After a two day walk he got to Alachua and took shelter in the front of an empty building.
A man with his Realtor pulled up to the empty commercial building and the very first thing the man did was give Louis some money, this random act of kindness that went much further. The man turned out to be Attorney Robert Rush who was leasing the building for a client’s new business venture. Louis smiles when he thinks of the day they met and said, “He was just a nice guy, most people aren’t conscientious like that, I had no idea he was a high power attorney. I didn’t want him to give me money for nothing so I started helping Robert and business owner Pearce Hayes. I wanted to prove myself, they saved my life and they gave me my life back. Not only did they give me a job but also a place to live, clothes and a phone. Being on the street is no life, it is just an existence. It is rare for someone to offer a person like me a job. Now I have a place to live and a job, I am very happy here at Great Value Jewelry Outlet.”
It was great to see such joy in Louis’ face as he spoke. It is heartwarming to know there are good people out there during this Holiday season.