Ryan Roberts produced this update.
Ryan Roberts produced this update.
Co-founder of Grooveshark Josh Greenberg was found dead on Sunday.
Greenberg, 28, was found by his girlfriend, Abby Mayer, in their bed, said Officer Ben Tobias, Gainesville Police Department spokesperson.
Investigators did not find any evidence of foul play or trauma, Tobias wrote in an email.
He said an autopsy was conducted today by the medical examiner’s office and they found no obvious cause of death. The toxicology results will take six-to-eight weeks to be completed.
Grooveshark was a successful web-based music streaming service founded by Greenberg and Sam Tarantino in 2006, both undergraduates at the University of Florida. In April 2015 the company announced it would shut down immediately as part of a settlement on copyright infringement lawsuits.
Friends of Greenberg are paying tribute by posting on social media, sharing memories about Greenberg and his significance to the Gainesville community.
Florida Democrats used the hashtag #TakeItDown last week in a tweet about Marion County’s decision to fly the Confederate flag at the McPherson Governmental Complex.
The tweet, which came from the Florida Party’s official Twitter account on July 16, contained a picture of the flag above the complex , along with text reading, “RT (retweet) to tell them to take it down #TakeItDown!” It also included a link to a Palm Beach Post article chronicling the events.
Max Steele, press secretary for the Florida Democratic Party, said now is the time for the flag to be removed.
“The time has passed,” Steele said. “We’re one nation, one country.”
Following the church tragedy in Charleston, S.C., the flag had been temporarily removed in June. However, Marion County Commissioners voted on July 7, to put the flag back up.
Diane Perrine of Dunnellon, Fla., created a petition two days later, asking for the removal of the flag. In her petition, she said the government represents all of their citizens and if some don’t want the flag to be flown, then it should be removed.
Perrine’s petition currently has 124 signatures.
“We aren’t erasing history, it’s important to know our history, but this [flag] is not a symbol of the United States, and it’s not a symbol that belongs on government property,” Steele said.
The flag’s cultural significance has changed with society, he said. Now, it can’t be separated from a symbol of hate.
Steele said the Confederate flag is a divisive symbol, and feels President Obama was right when he said the flag belongs in a museum.
Melissa Seice, an Ocala resident, feels the flag represents “pride, culture and history.”
“My personal opinion is the flag is a part of history and if everyone is so worried about keeping history the way it should be, then why take away part of history,” Seice said.
For Seice and her family, the flag represents who they are and what they stand for.
Seice has no problem defending what she believes in and has posted on her Facebook page her disapproval regarding the removal of the Confederate flag.
“I’m not afraid to tell anybody,” Seice said. “That is what I represent, and I’m not afraid to defend that.”
The Marion County Commission is waiting to receive recommendations for the future location of the display and the proper course of action, according to a press release by Marion County Board of County Commissioners.
Negotiations between the University of Florida Board of Trustees and faculty representatives moved forward Thursday after a half-percent increase to the pay-raise offer, although additional progress has been deferred until later this month.
The University’s current offer stands at 2.5 percent. Faculty representatives, however, are not yet satisfied.
Lead negotiator John Biro said the collective bargaining unit, which represents about 1,600 faculty members, will not settle until the university’s counter-offer is closer to the initial request of a 6.5-percent raise. This figure, Biro explained, comprises a 2-percent merit-based raise and a 4-percent general salary increase.
Biro, a UF philosophy professor, said the unit is particularly adamant about reaching a deal they consider fair because faculty went without raises between 2011 and 2013.
Bill Connellan, head of labor relations for the university, attributes this pay-raise freeze to the economic downturn during that period, colloquially known as the Great Recession.
“Whether it was a result of the recession or not, I won’t speculate. In any event, we went without raises for a number of years,” Biro said. “And it can no longer be justified.”
Connellan maintains that the university’s current offer of 2.5 percent is competitive, but Biro disagrees.
“Historically, Florida has not funded higher education the way it should be, especially not in comparison to other states,” he said. “But at least when you’re making intrastate comparisons, with the likes of FSU, you shouldn’t be lagging behind.”
The UFF body at FSU has reached an agreement to be ratified in August calling for a 1.75 percent cost-of-living adjustment for faculty, a pool of money that will give an average $3,600 “market equity adjustment” to 550 faculty members and promotion increases of 12 percent to associate professor level and 15 percent to full professor level.
Connellan said the university must consider various factors when debating pay raises. Faculty salaries at other institutions are just one factor. Cost of living and inflation are part of the equation, too.
Connellan said UF faculty salaries have kept pace with inflation.
The UF chapter of the faculty union has posted salary comparisons on its website looking at faculty salaries at UF and 10 peer institutions, as designated by the Office of Institutional Planning and Research.
In each level of tenure/tenure-track faculty, UF is at the bottom of faculty compensation—coming in last for assistant/associate professors and third from last for full professors.
And in most cases even factoring in cost-of-living adjustments, UF remains at the bottom. For example, an assistant professor making the average salary at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor ($89,600) would need to make about $10,000 more than UF’s average $76,200 salary to maintain her quality of living, based on the cost-of-living calculator provided online by CNN Money.
The call for salary increases is not motivated solely by self-interest but by a necessity to retain talented faculty, as well, Biro said.
“Other institutions offer our best faculty more than UF does. Unless there is some personal reason why somebody can’t move, those attractive offers obviously lead to our best faculty going elsewhere.”
Former UF philosophy professor David Copp is one example.
In 2009, Copp left for University of California, Davis, because he felt dissatisfied at the lack of transparency in UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“I found the administration to be very untrustworthy,” he said.
According to Copp, he was recruited to UF by the then-dean of the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Copp said, the dean promised in writing that, among other things, the philosophy department would have the resources to hire faculty and host conferences.
Copp said those promises were never kept, adding that he believed during his years at UF the university prioritized its athletic program over academic values.
WUFT News could not obtain a comprehensive list of faculty departures to verify reasons for leaving the university.
Biro said he hopes that both sides will come to an agreement when they meet again on July 30.
As dusk settled near Gainesville City Hall on Wednesday, Muslims reaching their fourteenth hour of abstaining from food and water used their remaining energy to feed others in need.
Project Downtown Gainesville, a nonprofit charity started around 2007 in Gainesville, provided meals for the homeless during the last 10 days of Ramadan, a month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
Most volunteers involved with the non-profit were observing Ramadan. They are often hungry themselves when handing out food to others.
“It really makes you appreciate how blessed we are to always have access to food when we need it,” said Mahmoud Aryan, internal coordinator for organization.
The purpose of the fast is to bring Muslims closer to God and remind them of those less fortunate.
“The Quran and the Islamic faith, as well as our basic human values, emphasize taking care of your neighbors and people who are less fortunate than you in the community,” said Ali-Abdel Halim, director of Project Downtown.
“Ramadan is a time when our bodies feel what it’s like to go without food, and we are able to reflect on things that we take for granted daily,” Halim said. “During Ramadan, it’s especially important to try to give and share as much as possible with your family and community.”
He said Project Downtown has been fortunate enough to have the capability to do something meaningful for people who often struggle to find meals.
Funded by donations from local mosques, Halim said dinners have included catering from Mi Apa Latin Cafe and Zaxby’s. The volunteers bring enough food so people are able to ask for second helpings and often times thirds.
“The organization serves as a beacon of social activism for Muslim communities at large,” he said.
However, he said it is a non-denominational organization and all individuals are welcome to participate.
“The organization began with just a few college students, like ourselves, who were unhappy and fed up with the way they saw homeless citizens treated.”
John Bauer, a homeless war veteran who spent four years in the Middle East, said it’s a blessing they are doing this service. He said after 5 p.m., there aren’t alternative options for people like himself.
“I am not friends with them because they’re Muslim. I’m friends with them because they’re good people,” Bauer said.
After July 17, the meals will continue to be served every Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and usually last until the last person in line has received food.
“For the last few years, Project Downtown hasn’t missed a single scheduled service,” Halim said.
Volunteers for Project Downtown also aims to connect with people who are facing difficult situations, said Irfaan Hafeez, former director of Project Downtown.
He believes that providing a meal, a hand to help and an ear to listen can help get some people back on their feet.
Previously, Project Downtown has helped people reunite with family members, provided temporary housing and helped people find jobs.
“We do various projects throughout the year like winter clothing drives and hygiene drives. In the past, we have collaborated with the UF College of Medicine to provide health fairs and free assessments,” Halim said.
Project Downtown was awarded the 2015 E.T. York Work of Heart Award as an outstanding nonprofit group on July 10.
The organization hopes to have enough funding in the future to be able to provide meals all 30 days of Ramadan, Halim said.
“We’re out there every week of the year and have been for many years,” Halim said. “We hope to continue doing the same in the future.”
With wide grins on their faces, 11 children formed a single file line. They are excited and jittery
The children, ages 5 to 10, were preparing to head on stage and perform as part of their summer migrant education classes. June 25 marked the end of their three-week migrant education session at Alachua Elementary School – the same day of their play.
Their teacher, Judy Beverly, is an English teacher and reading coach at F.W. Buchholz High School in Gainesville and has done the program for six years. She gave them some encouragement.
“You’re stars,” she said. “Smile.”
After they filed on stage in the school’s cafeteria, some of the older students passed a microphone around and read lines from a script for The Three Little Pigs while the others acted out the scenes using desks as houses labeled “straw,” “sticks” and “bricks.”
Beverly said the performance reflects what the students learned over the course of the camp.
And her classes are only part of a bigger picture.
The program is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Title 1 Part C – Education of Migratory Children. According to the department website, the program is put into place to reduce disruptions migrant children face in their education due to frequent moves.
This summer, counties all around North Central Florida are keeping migrant children learning.
Victoria Gomez, a teacher specialist for the Alachua Multi-County Migrant Education Program, said the program is for children whose families work in agriculture and fishery and are required to relocate often.
She said students often fall behind academically, so keeping up with summer classes helps. The camps mainly focus on reading and math, but also emphasize the arts and music. It includes all aspects of the school experience as well, including parent-teacher conferences, tutoring and counseling.
Margarita Alonso, whose two children were enrolled in Beverly’s program, said she saw improvements in their reading skills. Gomez acted as an interpreter for Alonso during her interview with WUFT News.
Alonso said her daughter, 6-year-old Yasmin Burgos-Alonso, would read stories to her stuffed dog the way Beverly read to the students.
“It was an incredible help,” she said.
Her son, 10-year-old Hector, would practice dances the children learned for their performance.
Alonso’s daughter said her favorite part of the migrant education program was getting to meet children from other schools who spoke Spanish.
Natalie Norris, coordinator with the Alachua Multi-County Migrant Education Program, said the goal of migrant education is to ensure children graduate and are prepared for higher education or a career.
Norris oversees 12 counties in the state as part of the program, including Alachua, Gilchrist, Levy, Clay and Hamilton.
Hamilton has some of the largest programs with two session that serve a total of 85 students.
There are two programs in Alachua County serving 35 students. Gilchrist has one program with nine students, and two in Levy with 25.
Norris said children travel to Alachua from other counties to participate in the sessions.
Cristina Davidson, program specialist for migrant education for Marion County Schools, said Marion has two K-8 programs and one high school program. About 33 students take part in both programs combined.
The programs in Marion follow a computer-based plan, and the high school students learn about video production.
Davidson said summer sessions are crucial in order to prevent learning loss that can occur when students take long breaks from class and keep them familiar with English.
She said some students come from impoverished families, so vacations are not likely. Instead of spending time doing leisurely activities, the children work to help support their families.
The National Agricultural Workers Survey found that the average income range for migrant families was $15,000 to $17,499.
According to the survey, 81 percent of migrant workers spoke Spanish as their native language.
Tony Malo, a technology teacher at Gainesville High School, said this is his second year teaching migrant children for the summer. His program consisted of two June sessions that each last a week.
In Malo’s class, the students learn graphic design and how to use Photoshop.
He said the students range from ages 14 to 18, and in addition to classes they take regular field trips to places around Gainesville, such as the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Although the program is helpful, he said, he thinks it should be longer than two weeks. Funding determines the length of the sessions. The federal government distributes funds based on the number of migrant students per state, students who take part in summer sessions and the cost of education in the state.
Malo said having summer migrant education classes is important because it keeps consistency with the children’s educational progress.
He believes that the social aspect, migrant children getting to interact with others in their same situation, is as important as the academic lessons.
Stephanie Byrne produced this update.
On a hot Florida day, a cold, refreshing beverage is a must. One way to satisfy this is with a rich, handmade local craft beer.
The state has taken a liking to its local brews, with about 150 active microbreweries, according to Beer in Florida. In comparison to states like California this number might seem feeble, with the Golden State boasting approximately 550 breweries, according to the California Craft Brewers Association.
But North Central Florida breweries like Swamp Head, Infinite Ale Works and Copp are optimistic about the state’s future, and hope to see it’s numbers grow. And while the quantity isn’t robust, the quality of the beverages is not lacking.
Within the pungent and earthy odor of the brewing room at Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, the process of making Florida beer begins.
The process of making flavorful products starts with the malts and grains. Swamp Head gets its hops and grains from the northwestern region of the U.S.
Once those two ingredients arrive at the brewery, the handmade brewing process at Swamp Head begins.
Brewing begins with milling the grain and malts into grist in a tiny room before transferring to Mash/Lauter Tuns, machines that mix the grist with hot water. The target temperature inside the machines is set around 150 degrees.
This makes the main brewing room quite stuffy.
After mixing comes boiling. This is when hops are added to the concoction. The newly boiled liquid then leaves the boilers to cool and ferment into a rich, bold beverage. Once fermentation runs its course, the beer is carbonated and ready to enjoy.
“Craft beer is gaining in popularity because it is just overall a more flavorful product,” said Brandon Nappy, the tactical marketing manager at Swamp Head.
A major difference in the craft beer process in comparison to larger brewers such Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors is that small brewers do most of the work by hand rather than relying on a machine, Nappy said.
Nappy pointed out that Swamp Head is brewed and kegged by hand.
In 2014, Swamp Head distributed just under 6,000 barrels of beer. An enormous jump from the measly 700 barrels the brewery shipped out in 2010. Nappy said they anticipate around 10,000 will be doled out across the state this year.
Swamp Head’s Stump Knocker Pale Ale is the only beer the brewery currently distributes in cans. The Big Nose IPA and Wild Night Honey Cream Ale will be available in cans in the Gainesville and Ocala markets this month.
The brewery has a distribution license for every county in Florida except Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe.
Its strongest market is Gainesville.
Burrito Bros. Taco Company in Gainesville has four Swamp Head beers on tap, and their other selections are almost all exclusively Florida beers.
Jack O’Connor, assistant general manager of Burrito Bros,. said they wanted to help neighbors and support local businesses.
“To just come in and get a beer and burrito, people love it,” O’Connor said. “We thrive off local business, and people want to buy those beers.”
Copp Brewery in Crystal River distributes its four core beers in kegs to about 20 counties around the state, ranging just south of their home base to Jacksonville and Tallahassee, said Fran Copp, owner and head brewer.
The Crystal River brewery began as a winery in 2007 and obtained its federal brewpub license in 2012. Copp said the winery/brew bottles about 20,000 bottles of wine per year, but he stressed beer is a different animal.
Copp said plans to expand distribution are in the works as the brewery is currently performing controlled tests on bottling and hope to can as well. When it comes to distribution methods, Copp wants to make sure he’s putting out the best product.
Recently, an Ocala brewery, Infinite Ale Works, also explored distribution.
Jim Ritchhart, head brewer and managing partner at Infinite, said the brewery will distribute in Marion County, and to select locations in Gainesville soon and hopefully Tallahassee. All four of the brewery’s beers are currently distributed in kegs.
Breweries have also started participating in events as a way to increase exposure.
Events like the Hogtown Craft Beer Festival in Tioga, Gainesville, allow patrons to taste local, regional and national brews by visiting different brewery’s tents.
Festivals provide a high-energy environment for people to seek out their favorite breweries and try new ones, Nappy said. Breweries like Swamp Head bring limited amounts of rare batch beers to give guests the opportunity to try something exclusive.
Nappy said the average age group attending festivals is the 25 to 35 age range, but beer connoisseurs of all ages make an appearance. Brewers experience much success in spreading word of their brand at festivals.
A Different Kind of Beer
After drinking craft beer, mainstream beer is for the birds.
Light beer used to reign king in the state, Nappy said. Mainstream beers like Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors were the go-to beers for many people.
Ritchhart said people rarely go back to drinking these beers on a regular basis after trying craft beers. Personally, he said he prefers Belgian-style beers and wants to share his love with the community.
Infinite’s beers are different because they rely heavily on Belgian hops. These hops are not usually sold outside of Belgium because of the limited supply, Ritchhart said. He noted Belgian-style beers have sugars added to them while other styles do not.
With all of Infinite’s beers having some sort of Belgian twist, it makes them intriguing and spark people’s curiosity to try something new.
Copp brewery tends to specialize in English-inspired ales.
English ales range from hoppy pale ale to rich, nutty brown ale. One of the best selling ales at Copp is the Southern Grit, a light pale ale. This beer fits the liking of the boaters in Crystal River who prefer a lighter beer while on the water, Copp said.
Southern Grit won a gold medal in the American light hybrid category, while the brewery’s Apricopp won bronze for a fruit beer at this year’s statewide beer competition, Best Florida Beer Championship. The competition had around 90 breweries participate, and about 40 received medals, Copp said.
Copp’s 1821 English IPA won silver in 2014.
Swamp Head, on the other hand, brews a blend of both English and Belgian beers.
The Cottonmouth Belgian-style Witbier gives drinkers a light citrus flavor, while the Midnight Oil stout is a traditional English-style Oatmeal Stout that blends in a coffee flavor.
Nappy said creating world-class beer is what Swamp Head strives for.
Changes On The Horizon
The beer industry in Florida underwent some changes on July 1 when SB 186 went into effect, which allows customers to purchase and fill 64-ounce growlers, the industry standard nationwide. Before, consumers could only buy 32-ounce and 128-ounce growlers.
Swamp Head held an event to celebrate the launch of the 64-ounce growlers.
“We got a huge response for the event,” Nappy said. “It was just great to see the community and how much they support us and support the legislation that we tried to get passed and ended up getting passed.”
Rep. Keith Perry from the Florida House and Alachua County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson were among some who attended the event, Nappy said.
Some hope the new law will increase brewery tourism in the state.
“There are people that actually create and develop their vacation, or two-weeks vacation, around going to beer areas, beer states and beer cities to enjoy beer,” Ritchhart said.
“I mean I do it, and I know dozens and dozens and dozens of people that that’s their agenda when they go out. They create their vacation to want to go somewhere to enjoy the beer culture.”
He added tourism will likely grow in Florida as craft beer grows. With the increased exposure and promotion of craft beer, people are seeking out the newest flavors and varieties.
“In the state of Florida, especially from North Florida up to the border, I think that the attitudes of people have changed a lot so that people now don’t want just the same all the time,” Ritchhart said.
Editors note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect that Infinite Ale Works is located in Ocala, FL.