Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Beware of Alligators' at Keystone

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Beware of Alligators' at Keystone

Article excerpt

Byline: ANNE SPONHOLTZ

Keystone Heights Vice Mayor Bruce Harvin intends to make sure the "Beware of Alligators" sign is posted at Keystone Beach after learning that city employees encountered two alligators while working at the beach.

The incident occurred Tuesday morning when two city workers were preparing to install buoys used at the beach, said Supervisor of Operations Rick Hall. He said the workers were somewhat shaken by the incident and relieved when a diver who was to assist in the operation did not show up, allowing the workers to put off the project until another day.

Keystone Beach is located on Lake Geneva and the buoys are installed to mark the swimming area of the public beach.

Hall said the beach will not officially open to swimmers until Memorial Day. The water quality of the swimming area is tested by the Clay County Health Department prior to the beach officially opening, Hall said, and after that samples for testing are taken by city workers on a weekly basis.

Harvin said Hall's announcement at the meeting was the first time he had heard about the alligators. He said the city had a sign posted at the beach in the past, complete with a picture of an alligator, to remind swimmers to be cautious, but he was not sure the sign was still there.

"I'll make sure that the sign is still up," he said following the meeting.

Councilwoman Michelle Curtis said she, too, was concerned about the alligators.

"It's kind of concerning with all the kids going down there to swim and the beach opening soon. I hope the activity will scurry them onto another location," Curtis said.

The brochure "Living with Alligators," published by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, states that it receives more than 15,000 alligator-related complaints annually and removes more than 5,000 nuisance alligators each year.

"Alligators are an important part of Florida's heritage and play an important role in the ecology of our state's wetlands," the brochure states. "A better understanding of these facts and a broader knowledge of alligator behavior will help ensure that humans and alligators can continue to coexist. …

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