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By on August 15th, 2014 | Last updated: August 15, 2014 at 7:47 am

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Elderly Man Attacked After Denying Assailant Permission to Marry

By on August 27th, 2014 | Last updated: August 27, 2014 at 2:51 pm
James Kane, 40, now faces a charge of felony aggravated domestic battery on a person 65 or older. The attack reportedly occurred after the 72-year-old victim refused Kane permission to marry his girlfriend.

Marion County Sheriff's Office

James Kane, 40, now faces a charge of felony aggravated domestic battery on a person 65 or older. The attack reportedly occurred after the 72-year-old victim refused Kane permission to marry his girlfriend.

Marion County resident James Kane reportedly beat his 72-year-old father after he refused Kane permission to marry his girlfriend.

According to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office report, Kane, 40, was arrested Monday at 5:31 p.m. on a charge of felony aggravated domestic battery on a person 65 or older. The victim sustained two cuts on his face, one on his left cheek and the other on his forehead, about two inches long. His face was also red and bruising. Blood was found on his face and shirt.

Kane told deputies he was angry after the victim refused to give Kane his blessing. He then admitted to repeatedly punching the victim.

The victim reportedly told deputies he did not want to press charges on Kane; instead, he said he fell down the stairs. Both the victim and the woman who reported the incident said Kane is bipolar and had not been taking his medications for some time. According to the report, Kane had taken them the morning of the incident.

Kane was taken to the Marion County Jail.

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Yoho Takes GOP Primary Over Rush; Alachua Voting Results

By and on August 26th, 2014 | Last updated: August 27, 2014 at 10:01 am
Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter explains to supporters why voting results were delayed Tuesday night. Despite minor technical difficulties, the results were reported and gave some candidates the news they had been waiting for.

Photo by Katie Campbell / WUFT News

Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter explains to supporters why voting results were delayed Tuesday night. Despite minor technical difficulties, the results were reported and gave some candidates the news they had been waiting for.

Updated: This story was updated to correct an earlier version that stated “Yoho Claims Congressional Seat” in the headline.

Despite delays in voting results across the state, Alachua County candidates and supporters watched as the numbers arrived within moments of each other on Tuesday.

Not only were live results delayed but some of Alachua’s precincts also had technical difficulties, which delayed them from reporting results for more than an hour.

“We did have some technical difficulties,” said Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter. “Precinct 6 is having to drive their equipment in so that we can upload the results from here.”

A record breaking 5,609 early votes were cast. Carpenter said it was the highest number of early votes the county ever had in a primary election despite a 19.51-percent voter turnout.

“We usually see something in the 20 to 35 percent depending on whether it’s a primary or general. So, this is pretty much in line with what we have seen before,” Carpenter said. “Of course, we would love to see it be 100 percent, and we had hoped that we would be seeing some bigger numbers since we had such a nice turnout for our early votes.”

Along with Alachua County results, a decision was also reached on the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary. Ted Yoho prevailed over contender Jake Rush  – Alachua County was among those with polling results in Yoho’s favor.

“I would like to thank the voters of North Central Florida, Alachua County and all of the counties in the best district in Florida – the 3rd Congressional District – for their help, their support and their trust to return me back to Washington for my second term,” Yoho said. “I’m honored and privileged, and I look forward to working harder than I did last time.”

Kat Cammack, Yoho’s campaign manager, credited the win in part to Yoho’s decision to not release a negative campaign against his opponent, Jake Rush.

“The Congressman doesn’t engage in negative campaigning,” Cammack said. “This district is sick and tired of the negative campaigning, and so, our opponent chose to engage in it, and we’re seeing the results of it right now.”

Even as Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter waited for results from District 6, candidates in downtown Gainesville began celebrating the end of a long campaign trail.

Incumbent Lee Pinkoson defeated Harvey L. Ward by 2,977 votes for the Alachua County Commission District 2 Democratic primary.

“I’m honored that they had enough confidence in me to give me another four years,” Pinkoson said.

Like Pinkoson, successful candidates were eager to thank constituents and reiterate campaign promises. Others, like Ward, applauded their fellow party members and their victorious opponents.

“We’re disappointed, but we did everything we could and that’s how it works out,” Ward said. “I’m very excited for Ken (Cornell). He’s a great candidate. He’s going to be a great county commissioner, and I’m looking forward to voting for him in November.”

Ken Cornell, winner of the Alachua County Commission District 4  Democratic primary, thanked his volunteers and the community for it’s support.

“The reality is the primary is over,” Cornell said. “I had an incredible opponent. Hopefully, we can come together, and we can work on things that are important in this community.”

Gunnar Paulson defeated Philoron Wright with 66.67 percent of the votes to reclaim his Alachua County School Board District 3.

“You don’t get a vote like that unless everybody in the community is behind you,” Paulson said.

The Alachua County general elections will be decided on Nov. 4.

Kelly Audette contributed reporting.

Full Results of Alachua County 2014 Primary and General Elections on Aug.26:

U.S. Representative District 3: Ted Yoho

U.S. Representative District 5: Glo Smith

Governor (REP): Rick Scott

Governor (DEM): Charlie Christ

Attorney General (DEM): George Sheldon

County Commission District 2 (DEM): Lee Pinkoson

County Commission District 4 (DEM): Ken Cornell

Circuit Judge, Group 11: William Davis

County Judge, Group 4: Susanne Bullard

School Board District 3: Gunnar Paulson

School Board District 5: Rob Hyatt

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UF President Participates in ALS ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’

By on August 25th, 2014 | Last updated: August 25, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Dumping a bright orange Gatorade cooler over a coach’s head is common for athletes after a game or tournament. On Monday, two University of Florida athletes, football quarterback Jeff Driskel and volleyball player Simone Antwi, dumped a bucket of ice water onto UF President Bernie Machen.

University of Florida President Bernie Machen is doused with ice water for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Machen was nominated to participate in the nationwide campaign by Kéran Billaud, a Ph.D. student at UF.

Photo by Virgina Hamrick / WUFT News

University of Florida President Bernie Machen is doused with ice water for the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge." Machen was nominated to participate in the nationwide campaign by Kéran Billaud, a Ph.D. student at UF.

After several nominations from students and his grandchildren, Machen took on the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise money and awareness for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Machen explained ALS is one of the worst diseases still without a cure, and this challenge could raise awareness of the illness.

“This is a lot of fun, but there is something good behind it,” Machen said. “This is social media used the right way.”

In fact, social media introduced one of the students who nominated Machen to ALS.

UF Ph.D. student Kéran Billaud accepted the challenge from his niece in Alaska. Billaud admits he did not know much about ALS before the ice bucket campaign. He took on the challenge, hoping more social media users would learn about the illness, and nominated Machen to increase support.

“I told myself if you’re going to advance a cause,” Billaud said,  “you want to challenge people who are really well known.”

Billaud added students may participate after watching the video, and Machen agreed.

“I hope people will say, ‘You know, if this old guy can do it, I can do something about it as well,’” Machen said while drenched.

President Machen looked shocked after being doused with ice water. "Oh god," he exclaimed immediately after. "That is real cold water, even in sunny and hot Florida."

Photo by Virginia Hamrick / WUFT News

President Machen looked shocked after being doused with ice water. "Oh god," he exclaimed immediately after. "That is real cold water, even in sunny and hot Florida."

Machen nominated all YouTube viewers to accept the challenge as well as Cory Yeffet, president of UF Student Government, and Dave Kratzer, vice president of the UF Division of Student Affairs.

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State Buys Land For Florida Greenway

By on August 25th, 2014 | Last updated: August 25, 2014 at 11:04 am

State park managers have said they will be buying or trading land in Marion, Palm Beach, and Jackson counties.

This is to fill the gaps of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a recreational outdoor area that spans 110 miles.

Marion County wants funding from the Florida Department of Transportation.

The program is currently getting 1.5 percent of the Florida Forever Program’s funds.

The additional land from the purchases will allow for more trails.

The Greenway, which crosses Central Florida from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River, offers a diverse natural habitat and a wide array of trails and recreation areas.

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Saving Florida Orange Juice: The Search For A Cure For Citrus Greening – The Greening Series, Part 3

By on August 22nd, 2014 | Last updated: August 22, 2014 at 11:32 am
Dr. Evan Johnson, research scientist in plant pathology, explains the signs and symptoms of citrus greening, or HLB (huanglongbing),  at University of Florida's Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Florida.

Dr. Evan Johnson, research scientist in plant pathology, explains the signs and symptoms of citrus greening, or HLB (huanglongbing), at University of Florida's Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Florida.

Nutrient supplements, root stock additives, genetic modification, heat therapies and a bacterial killer are just a few of the proposed solutions to what has been called the worst disease in history to hit Florida orange groves. Citrus greening, a bacterial disease that prevents nutrients from being absorbed by a tree, is killing off the Florida orange tree, and with it, the Florida orange juice industry which supplies 80 percent of the U.S. market.

Many are working to find a cure, like Dr. Reza Ehsani, University of Florida research scientist, who is using unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to diagnose areas of citrus greening in groves across the United States. One of the newest solutions from the University of Florida suggests the protein that spreads citrus greening in a tree can be killed with a biochemical spray. All proposed solutions require years long field testing and approval before any cure is brought to the grower on the grove.

Florida citrus now has over $125 million from federal and state money to help pay for the research to find a cure, said Mike Sparks, President of Florida Citrus Mutual.  The grower community he supports will not let the industry fail, said Sparks.

Florida’s 2013-2014 citrus harvesting season closed with many growers losing 30 percent in production, in addition to losses of 20 to 30 percent in years before from greening.

While the industry that defines Florida makes its way toward a recovery with millions in new research money and political support, delivering a cure to the grower takes time, at a time when growers continue to absorb production losses.

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Two People Die in Levy County Home Fire

By on August 20th, 2014 | Last updated: August 20, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Local law enforcement and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating a mobile home fire that occurred in Levy County early Wednesday morning.  Lt. Scott Tummond of Levy County Sheriff’s Office said the Bronson Fire Department responded to calls at 2:15 am at NE 105th Ave in unincorporated Levy County. Fire fighters worked for eight hours to extinguish the flames. A child’s swing set was the only thing left unscathed.

The Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Elizabeth Fredrick, 78, and her great-granddaughter, Rhiannon Rickmyer, 10, died in the fire. Rickmyer was a student at Bronson Elementary School. Tummond said that Rickmyer is the third student to die in this area in the past few weeks. The school is offering grief counseling for students and faculty mourning the accident. The Sheriff’s Office offered their thoughts and prayers to  the family.

“This is a tragic incident,” said Tummond. “It is going to affect our community…we are preparing for any needs the community may have.”

Levy County Sherriff’s Office, the state fire marshal, and  fire departments from Williston, Chiefland and Archer are investigating the cause of the fire.  Tummond said they have ruled out foul play.

Tummond warned that mobile homes are particularly susceptible to fires because of their design. He encouraged residents to make sure all appliances are turned off before leaving the house or going to bed. According to the Sheriff’s Office, many homes in North Central Florida utilize natural gas. Tummond encourages residents to double check for leaks before using cooking or heating appliances.

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How A Fourth Generation Citrus Farmer Fights To Save His Grove – The Greening Series, Part 2

By on August 20th, 2014 | Last updated: August 21, 2014 at 9:06 pm
Citrus Greening
Steve Futch, UF IFAS Extension agent, and family farmer, Mac Turner, right, tour the new orange tree plantings on Turner’s family farm in Arcadia, Fla. in April 2014. (Heather van Blokland/WUFT)

Citrus farmer Mac Turner is fighting to keep his orange grove alive. Mac and his three siblings own 1,000 acres of citrus groves in Arcadia, Florida, which has been in the family for four generations. Mac’s family and other growers in the state are fighting citrus greening, the worst disease to hit the citrus industry ever.

First seen in Florida in 2004, citrus greening is a bacterial disease that prevents nutrients from being absorbed by a tree, producing smaller, bitter, unripened fruit to fall from the tree before maturity. University of Florida citrus research scientists estimate every grove in the state is infected.

That means every grower is suffering, paying more and more to feed trees the additional nutrients required to keep grove trees alive and the cost is too much for some to stay in business.

“It’s like cancer. One cancer cell doesn’t make me sick, but all together they do. It’s a tipping point,” said University of Florida IFAS Extension Agent Steve Futch. Futch spends every day with guys like Mac Turner, coming up with ways to deal with greening during production season, on the farm.

Agriculture is the second biggest industry in Florida, after, tourism, employing 75,000 people across the state.  Greening is wiping out smaller farmers and will soon wipe out mid and larger citrus farmers, said Justin Sorrells, President of Sorrells Citrus Inc. in Arcadia.

Grower communities are desperate to help but don’t know how. “We’re in a pinnacle of panic,” said Barbara Carlton, retired president of the Peace River Citrus Valley Growers Association. “More and more growers are going to quit. We don’t have a handle on it. I believe there will be a way. I don’t know what it is.”

While industry leaders and researchers are focused on a cure for the future, the grower today is focused on how to care for the tree in the soil and the fruit that continues to fall on the ground.

Editor’s note: The headline, audio and first paragraph of this article were modified to reflect that Mac Turner is not abandoning his farm nor the citrus industry. 

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Residents Collect Memories of Mom’s Kitchen

By on August 19th, 2014 | Last updated: August 19, 2014 at 5:51 pm

 

Gainesville is saying goodbye to a neighborhood treasure following the demolition of the historic restaurant that served as a soul food and entertainment center for decades.

Mom’s Kitchen, which was owned and operated by George Young and his family for over 40 years, was sold to the City of Gainesville for $165,000 in 2009 with plans for redevelopment. The city eventually shut it down due to code violations.

“Mom’s Kitchen was a family owned business.” said Young.  “We called it the number one soul food place in Gainesville.”

Although the neighborhood’s legendary eatery is gone, residents are at peace with the memories the kitchen gave them. Young says people have been walking by and picking up pieces of debris just to keep a memento.

Personally, he hangs on to a brick adorned with the original blue paint and shells embedded across the surface because it “holds a memory.”

“This rock stands out, so I figure I would go through the debris and maybe gather a few more rocks,” said Young.

Throughout his time as breakfast chef, Young has seen the likes of Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel enjoying his southern cuisine. Local bands have also made their debut at Mom’s, going on to larger gigs.

Young believes the spirit of Mom’s Kitchen will always stay with him.

“Breakfast will still go on. You can still find a taste of Mom’s kitchen at STM Seafood and Breakfast,” where Young will soon be starting new job.

 

 

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Why The Orange Is So Important to Florida – The Greening Series, Part 1

By on August 19th, 2014 | Last updated: August 18, 2014 at 9:13 am
The Orange Bird is a cartoon character mascot created in 1970 by Disney for the Florida Citrus Commission.   A likeness of the famous icon now hangs in the hallway of Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Mike Sparks.

The Orange Bird is a cartoon character mascot created in 1970 by Disney for the Florida Citrus Commission. A likeness of the famous icon now hangs in the hallway of Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Mike Sparks.

On a typical day at the port of Miami, thousands of goods and services come through the Customs Border Patrol for inspection before entering the country. In fact, it is the busiest port in the country, and it is here, in 2004, when citrus greening first came into Florida, said Doug Bournique, Indian River Citrus League President.

Huanglongbing, better known as Citrus Greening is a disease killing off Florida’s orange groves in unprecedented number. Brought into the United States by the asian citrus psyllid, the insect and its bacteria prevent nutrients from being absorbed by the tree, causing fruit to stay green and drop from the tree prior to maturity, never reaching the full size and sweetness typical for quality juice.

Citrus is big business for the state of Florida, and millions of dollars are being poured into research to study the problem, including a recent $1.5 million grant from Coca-Cola to the University of Florida.

University of Florida researchers estimate every grove across the state may be infected with the disease and many growers have lost their farms and their livelihoods.

UF’s Citrus Research and Education Center scientists now believe a cure is coming soon, but considerable damage has been done to the industry that has come to symbolize much more than a breakfast beverage.

In our first of a three-part series on citrus greening, WUFT’s Heather van Blokland takes us through a bit of history on Florida’s connection to the orange:

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Public Health Officials Warn About Dehydration

By on August 18th, 2014 | Last updated: August 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Students in Alachua County went back to school today, but summer is still in full swing. WRUF reported that temperatures are expected to soar into the mid to high 90’s this week.  Craig Ackerman of the Marion County Health Department advises residents to stay hydrated and seek out air conditioning.

Ackerman recommends avoiding alcoholic beverages and drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration. He also said people should drink fluids well before they are thirsty. By the time they are thirsty, they have likely waited too long.

If air conditioning is not available at home, Ackerman suggests indoor activities such as  spending time at the library or the store.

According to the Health Department, the following could be symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Paleness
  • Cramps
  • Excess Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Cool and Damp Skin
  • Loss of Breath
  • Fainting

Parents are also cautioned against leaving children alone in hot cars with no air conditioning. The heat in cars can be deadly, Ackerman warned. Keeping personal belongings in the back seat with a child is one tip to avoid forgetting and leaving them unattended.  As children return to school, Ackerman also reminds teachers and parents to make sure that children are drinking enough fluids, since they might not always say they are thirsty.

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