Nestor Montoya produced this update.
Soon, people won’t be able to bring or purchase certain pet snakes from different states.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently designated four species of snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act, making it illegal to import or sell them across state lines.
These species include reticulated pythons, DeSchauensee’s anacondas, green anacondas and Beni anacondas. Other harmful snake species already on the list include the Burmese python, yellow anaconda and northern and southern African pythons.
The purpose of the new law, according to the agency, is to help protect the ecosystem.
“Lots of our animals are very sensitive to introduced predators,” said Gavin Shire, public affairs chief for the wildlife services. “These snakes are particularly large, powerful and efficient predators that could put a great number of species of wildlife at risk.”
According to Shire, wildlife officials will be stationed at airports checking to see if any snakes are imported into the country. As for state borders, undercover agents will be checking to see if any snakes will be transported across state lines.
But some North Central Florida snake experts are against the new law. Matthew Tie, manager of the Rowdy Reptile Shop, said the legislation would create a burden on the pet trade.
“You’re also affecting Internet sales, which is a big portion of the reptile business,” said Tie. “Not everyone has a mom-and-pop reptile shop that they can go to, so some have to buy from vendors online.”
The new legislation could affect local breeders who sell snakes to many pet shops like the Rowdy Reptile. There are people that only specialize in reticulated pythons. That’s what they’ve done for decades, Tie said
The law is expected to go into effect in early April.
To learn more about the action, click here.
When Know Where Coffee opened its doors earlier this month, it also opened the doors to a conversation about third-wave coffee culture.
The new coffee shop adds to the group of independent coffee establishments that compete against chains like Starbucks by offering something different.
Through research and hands-on training, owner Alfonso Guerrero has dedicated the past two years to understanding third-wave coffee culture — a culture dedicated to making coffee more about quality than quantity through different processes such as grinding the beans only after the order has been made.
“This is the difference between a regular house wine and high-end wine where you can taste the difference,” Guerrero said of the difference between second and third-wave coffee.
This style of coffee is different from second-wave coffee, or what is sometimes called the Starbucks model. Second-wave coffee emphasizes bigger quantities at fast speeds, according to Guerrero.
For third-wave style, baristas will measure out and grind the beans exactly for each order. Acidity increases in brewed coffee over time, producing a more bitter taste. Although the third-wave process takes longer, the final product will have a milder taste.
Anthony Rue, owner of Volta Coffee, Tea & Chocolate, said he remembers moving to Gainesville in 1992. At that time, the only place you could buy espresso was at Leonardo’s Pizza by the Slice, which served espresso from a can.
Gainesville was slow to accept third-wave coffee culture when Volta opened in 2008, but now it’s starting to boom, Rue said. He compared it to the rise in popularity of craft beer over cheaper styles.
“I was very much on the vanguard of trying to figure out how to do by-the-cup brewing, espressos and only using fresh, in-season coffee, which pretty much are the hallmarks of third-wave coffee,” Rue said. “I’ve never used the term (third-wave) to describe the shop, but I don’t see where it isn’t an accurate description.”
Rue was one of four people from the United States to serve as a judge in the World Barista Championship in Italy last year. While judging, it’s not unusual for him to drink 20-30 espresso shots a day.
However, not every cafe follows the evolving trend of coffee culture.
Layne Wrighton, manager of Maude’s Classic Cafe in downtown Gainesville, which opened in 1995, said the business uses more classic styles of brewing and emphasizes its food menu.
“We’re not the coffee shop that’s all about following up-to-date protocol where it’s so extreme,” Wrighton said. “We figure we’re caffeinating people — we should keep it as relaxed as possible.”
Coffee Culture, another Gainesville coffee shop, opened in 2003. Owner Alisa Rowe Kenney said it uses a multi-source blend of coffee as opposed to a single source. Every hot espresso is made at the time of order.
“We’re spaced far apart enough that I try to support the other independents,” Rowe Kenney said. “People might not like my coffee, but please go to an independent. We’re all up against the heavy hitters.”
Caryn Ligon, the manager of Pascal’s Coffehouse, echoed Rowe Kenney’s sentiments. She said she feels the competition in Gainesville is friendly.
Pascal’s, which is close to the University of Florida campus, opened in 2004 and switched to third-wave coffee styles three years ago. The popular java shop also serves as a Christian study center and houses guest speakers and classes.
“We’re invested in the quality, but maybe even more in the atmosphere and the people,” Ligon said.
Coffee is serious business for Rue, but he is still lighthearted about his passion.
“It’s so nerdy,” he said. “I traveled to Colombia just to sit in an auditorium and taste espresso. It doesn’t get much nerdier than that.”
Erica A. Hernandez produced this update.
Palatka’s riverfront development is well underway, but a local business partner has his own idea for drawing a crowd to the St. Johns River.
Luke Watkins, whose family operates Black Hog Farm, envisions a weekly farmers market that goes beyond fresh produce. Watkins said he hopes to create a smaller version of Jacksonville’s Riverside Arts Market by including local artists, musicians and food trucks.
“I want to be still focused on farmers because this is an agricultural community,” Watkins, 28, said. “But again, if you just have the farmers here, the draw will be less.”
Although he hasn’t begun securing vendors, Watkins said the city has approved the market to take place on Saturdays. Vendors would be able to sell their products on a stretch that runs from just south of Memorial Bridge to the riverfront amphitheater.
Watkins, who is primarily responsible for the organization of the market, said the city of Palatka has been fully supportive of the concept.
“I think the most important part that the city can offer is (to) show their support,” Watkins said, “that they’re allowing it to happen on public property and not (putting) up all kinds of red tape that we have to go through.”
Sam Deputy, the president of Downtown Palatka, Inc., said a market would only add to the riverfront revitalization that the city is working toward completing.
“Our waterfront is going to be a great location with all the changes that have gone on,” he said. “I think it’s going to bring a great dimension to our city.”
According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, agriculture and related industries generate roughly 41 precent of jobs in Putnam County.
Wayde Alford, a citrus and vegetable farmer in Pomona Park, said he’s participated in other markets where the management doesn’t seem to understand the needs of farmers. He said he’ll be interested in seeing which farms participate in the market and how the vendor contracts will be handled.
Watkins said he hopes that the market will raise awareness about the farmers who have long been the building blocks of the city, while also showing that Palatka “isn’t just a drive-through town.”
“There’s going to be a lot to do in Palatka,” Watkins said, “and this is going to be one of the many things that we’ll be able to offer.”
“Olivia Pitts is so beautiful!” she says to herself in the mirror.
When her teachers describe the 3-year-old, they say she is always singing, excited and happy. Sophia Gianfrancisco works at Kidworks, Olivia’s preschool, and says Olivia likes to speak in the third person.
“She looks like she’s off balance sometimes, and she’ll fall over but get up and say ‘I’m okay, Miss Sophie! Olivia Pitts is okay!’” Gianfrancisco said.
Olivia has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination. Her mother searched for ways to give Olivia more independence as she grows. She found a solution in a service dog.
Dr. Lisa Finnegan, director of Curriculum & Instruction for United Cerebral Palsy Central Florida, said cerebral palsy affects everyone differently.
“Some individuals are faced with difficulty controlling motor function where as others may not be able to walk or feed themselves,” she said in an email.
“Likewise, individuals with cerebral palsy may be affected cognitively as well as in the bodily control and functions,” she said. “Individuals may face abnormal muscle tone, poor muscle tone or muscle weakness, abnormal reflexes, contracted muscles — challenges could be anything from inability to move to spastic type movements, and then also cognitive challenges depending on the extent of brain damage.”
Joy Pitts, Olivia’s mother, is crowdfunding using GoFundMe, a site that lets people share their cause on Facebook and donate money. A little over a month after the site was created, their goal of $10,000 had been reached.
The money will be used toward finding a pure-bred service dog, training the dog and transporting it from Missouri to Florida. They are currently working with multiple agencies in Missouri to find a dog that will help Olivia.
Olivia was born with the disorder after complications in her delivery resulted in a brain injury.
According to the National Institutes of Health, cerebral palsy can’t be cured, but treatment will often improve a child’s capabilities. In general, the earlier treatment begins, the better chance children have of overcoming developmental disabilities or learning new ways to accomplish the tasks that challenge them.
A study in the Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology journal titled “Cerebral Palsy Epidemiology: Where are We Now and Where are We Going?” states that the prevalence among live births of the condition is increasing.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, Olivia began having seizures.
Pitts said the seizures aren’t the characteristic “falling and shaking” kind. She said Olivia blacks out “like a person with narcolepsy.”
Olivia sometimes has seizures while she is asleep. It is particularly dangerous then, because she can’t regulate her body temperature and begins shivering and approaching hypothermia.
The dog will help Olivia with her seizures by getting underneath her and bracing her fall. If she seizes at night, it will bark and wake up Olivia’s mother. The dog will also be able to calm her down when she is too overwhelmed or having a panic attack.
Olivia’s preschool helped with the funding for her service dog by selling miniature gardens. The children put dirt and seeds in an egg carton and sold them to parents and their friends, said Gianfrancisco.
“One of the dads at the preschool is a veterinarian and said he would take the dog on as a patient,” she said. “He will see the dog free of charge. There’s so much support for her.”
Joy Pitts agreed, saying she didn’t personally know half of the people who donated to the GoFundMe.
“It’s a lot to go through for a 3-year-old, but it will be life changing,” Pitts said.