In The News: Washington School Shooting Victim Dies, Gov. Scott Awards Millions In Aid, New CDC Guidelines For Ebola Healthcare Workers

By on October 27th, 2014 | Last updated: October 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm
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UF Wakeboard Team Hosts USA Wakeboard Southeast regionals

By and on October 27th, 2014 | Last updated: October 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Story By Melissa Zapata and Paola Asencio

Students stood side by side on two docks; some of them slumped forward, looking at the lake.

Sometimes they broke out in cheers, other times in a chorus of “oohs.”

The students watched their peers glide on wakeboards and maneuver technical flips and turns in the air as a yellow motorboat tugged them through the water.

The University of Florida wakeboard team hosted the USA Wakeboard Southeast Regionals at Lake Wauburg’s South Shore on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The competition was the final qualifier for nationals, which will take place in spring, and included five of the eight schools invited.

According to the UF Wakeboarding Club, seven UF students will compete at nationals: Heather Bouchard, Will Green, Jon Kistemaker, Marcus Knox, Alex Montgomery, Dixie Smith and Freddie Wayne.

Among the eight schools, UF won overall with 660 points followed by Florida State University with 540 points and the University of Georgia with 405 points.

The competition included four divisions for men, two divisions for women and wakeskate to total an overall score for each school’s team.

“I wish I was cool enough to do what they do,” said Gaby Greenleaf, 18, a UF telecommunications student.

Despite the competition, there was an air of celebration with free food, giveaways and music. During a break session, competitors and attendants came together and danced to music played by the Dalton Stanley Band.

The competition was not just for fun, but also brought more attention to women who participate in water sports.

UF biology major Heather Bouchard, 18, placed first in the women’s B division.

“I’m from Massachusetts where I was really into snowboarding,” Bouchard said. ”My parents were big water-skiers, so once I moved here I tried wakeboarding and fell in love with it.”

She said she couldn’t have done it without the help of Dixie Smith who took her under her wing.

Smith, 20, is the president of the UF Wakeboarding Club. The third-year biology student got involved after learning about the club through the RecSports Extravaganza.

Although she only began participating in wakeboarding two years ago, Smith placed second in women’s A division, falling short from FSU student, Amber Rohlman, who placed first.

“The club taught me everything,” Smith said.

Smith wants to be a positive role model and prove students can take something on and still be successful in school. One day, she hopes to compete outside the collegiate league.

“When you land something, it’s really rewarding,” Smith said. ”It makes it all worth it, especially as a female because the expectations are unfortunately really low.”

One of Smith’s goals is to help women progress in sports. To get more girls out in the water, she started Wahines of the Waves (WOW), an all-girls club involved in wakeboarding, surfing and skating.

“This sport can be discouraging because you get hit really hard, but you have to keep pushing,” she said. “You fall and fall, but you have to get back up.”


Team Scores

1.) UF – 660 Points

2.) FSU – 540 Points

3.) UGA – 405

4.) FGCU – 385

5.) Rollins – 100

Individual Final Scores for Women’s B

1.) Heather Bouchard – UF

2.) Kathleen Shing – FSU

3.) Katrina Peterson – FGCU

Individual Final Scores for Women’s A

1.) Amber Rohlman – FSU

2.) Dixie Smith – UF

3.) Allie Dennis – UGA

Individual Final Scores for Wakeskate

1.) Marcus Knox – UF

2.) Jhett Urie – FSU

3.) Brian Davidson – UGA

Individual Final Scores for Men’s D

1.) Alex Montgomery – UF

2.) Gordon Folkes – FSU

3.) Jacob Colquitt – UGA

Individual Final Scores for Men’s C

1.) Jon Kistemaker – UF

2.) Tyler Sacone – FSU

3.)Brian Davidson – UGA

Individual Final Scores for Men’s B

1.) Will Green – UF

2.) Pate Duddleston – UGA

3.) Casey Houghey – FSU

Individual Final Scores for Men’s A

1.) Demian Adam – Rollins

2.) Freddie Wayne – UF

3.) Jon Hunt – UGA

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Oct. 27, 2014: Afternoon News In 90

By on October 27th, 2014 | Last updated: October 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Molly Robinson produced this update. 

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In The News: Facebook Changing Journalism, Jacksonville Debates Human Rights, Gas Prices Lowest Since 2010

By on October 27th, 2014 | Last updated: October 27, 2014 at 12:35 pm
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Oct. 27, 2014: Morning News in 90

By on October 27th, 2014 | Last updated: October 27, 2014 at 10:42 am

Michelle Manzione produced this update.

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Residents Encouraged To Vote Early At ‘Empowerment Sunday’

By and on October 27th, 2014 | Last updated: October 28, 2014 at 3:55 pm
Martin Luther King III poses for photos with Eastside High School's Gospel Choir before addressing the crowd of voters at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. “My father used to say that a voteless people is a powerless people,” he said. “One of the most important steps we can take is the step to the ballot box.”

Leanna Scachetti / WUFT News

Martin Luther King III poses for photos with Eastside High School's Gospel Choir before addressing the crowd of voters at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. “My father used to say that a voteless people is a powerless people,” he said. “One of the most important steps we can take is the step to the ballot box.”

Madeline McCloud said she was with Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was arrested in Albany, Georgia in 1961. She was there in the prison — one of 28 women sharing a cell meant for four.

She took a year off school to travel with King and the Freedom Riders, fearless all of the way. Then, she held her 1-year-old daughter in her arms and sobbed when she learned King had been assassinated.

“In my lifetime, I’ve seen so much happen,” she said. “I’ve been through a lot. But that’s also why I still have hope today.”

That hope is what brought McCloud, 71, to Gainesville’s Bo Diddley Community Plaza for Empowerment Sunday. After seeing the progress minority groups have made since the days of the Freedom Riders, McCloud said hope is why she waited in the sunny downtown plaza, anticipating the arrival of a King once again: Martin Luther King III.

McCloud is the membership chairwoman for Alachua County’s chapter of the NAACP. She sat at a table with registration information pamphlets spread in front of her. Her goal is to increase membership in the local chapter, and she saw Empowerment Sunday as an opportunity to reach out to potential members. She believes voting is the key to moving society forward.

“If we don’t get out the vote,” McCloud said, “many of our gains, especially among minorities, are going to be taken from us.”

Empowerment Sunday is used to rally voters to vote early before the busy workweek starts. It targets churchgoers, particularly in the African American community, and encourages them to head to the polls right after church ends.

The African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County organized the event, which lasted from 1 to 5 p.m. Local political action organizations and officials running for office set up tents and booths around the perimeter of the plaza. A group served food to people who wandered over from the polls, exchanging “I voted” stickers for free lunch.

Looking over the plaza, watching people enter and exit the polls in the county administration building, McCloud said she wanted to see a lot of traffic.

“America is hurting. Period,” McCloud said. “We have got to increase our voting strength. We’ve got to re-energize our people.”

As voters milled around the plaza, eating lunch and chatting, the Eastside High School gospel choir performed to a crowd of about 100. The choir swayed and sang until a black sedan rolled up behind the Bo Diddley stage. Out stepped U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and her friend, Martin Luther King III.

Eastside’s choir was ushered back on stage, introducing King to the crowd with a fresh melody. Stepping up to the lectern at the front of the stage, King addressed the crowd after a flurry of snapshots, selfies and handshakes.

With Brown by his side, King spoke about the importance of increasing voter turnout in Gainesville, receiving intermittent applause and a chorus of ”yes” from the crowd.

“My father used to say that a voteless people is a powerless people,” he said. “One of the most important steps we can take is the step to the ballot box.”

King said it was important for him to visit cities like Gainesville, particularly because of his father’s legacy.

“My father and his team and many others gave their lives so that people who were excluded would have the right to vote,” King said. “I am totally dedicated to carrying this battle to encourage young people to get involved in the political process or even offer themselves for office.”

Diyonne McGraw, president of the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County, or 4As PAC, said on Empowerment Sunday she felt the organization was able to provide the community with an important opportunity to vote.

“If you don’t take advantage of it, we can write our obituary on Nov. 5,” she said. “It’s going to be detrimental. The governor’s race is extremely important.”

At the time Brown spoke, about 789 people had voted that day — she wanted 1,000. McGraw said she thinks most people don’t vote because they feel their votes don’t count and there is a lack of trust in politicians. She said getting people to vote is hard because it’s an effort to change mindsets.

King echoed that belief and said some elections are won by just a few votes. He said people have no choice but to pay taxes, but they do have a say in what happens to their money.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain,” King said. “You must participate if you want to be able to say something is wrong.”

King said early voting on Sunday is especially important because it gives more people the opportunity to vote; he thought there should be four Sundays to vote at minimum.

For McCloud, voting is about creating real change in the community. She said she saw many changes decades ago with the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr. She said she saw her community come out of the shadows and now wants to see all groups come together to effect change.

“I will never give up hope that we can make those gains again,” McCloud said. “But it’s going to take getting out the vote to change the mindset of people who feel hopeless and helpless.”


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Paws On Parole Looking To Continue Perfect Adoption Rate

By on October 25th, 2014 | Last updated: October 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm
Cassidy, an 18-month-old Lab/American Bulldog mix who was part of Academy 14 and his inmate trainer.

James Martin / WUFT News

Cassidy, an 18-month-old Lab/American Bulldog mix who was part of Academy 14 and his inmate trainer.

After eight weeks in the Gainesville Correctional Institution Work Camp, Harry Potter will be free. Sirius Black and Dobby are almost out on parole too.

Don’t worry about what magical crimes were committed though, these characters are a group of furry, four-legged friends who specialize in second chances.

Six shelter dogs make up the 36th academy of Paws on Parole, a partnership program between Alachua County Animal Services and the Florida Department of Corrections Work Camp. Inmates at the work camp volunteer to house-train the dogs for eight weeks in order for them to pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizens (CGC) program.

Dogs are available for adoption after graduating from the program. With a 100 percent adoption and retention rate, Paws on Parole “Hairy Pawter” themed academy hopes the magic continues.

“We’ve been doing it a little over four years and it’s a very good program,” said Sgt. Eric Wooten, a sergeant at the Department of Corrections in Gainesville. “It teaches the inmates as well as helps the animals.”

With between six and eight dogs per academy, the program has helped more than 200 shelter dogs find their “forever families” after eight weeks of inmate training.

Every dog that has gone through the Paws on Parole program, so far, has found a permanent home, with families even coming from out of state in search of a potential pet, according to Pope Hunter, Earth Pets Natural Pet Market employee.

Vinny the Chin, a 2 year old neutered Boston Terrier/Chihuahua mix was part of Academy 34, themed after "The Dogfather."

James Martin / WUFT News

Vinny the Chin, a 2 year old neutered Boston Terrier/Chihuahua mix was part of Academy 34, themed after "The Dogfather."

“It’s been tremendous to see six to eight dogs that would’ve normally been stuck in the shelter system find a new home,” Hunter said. “There’s a lot of thought and work that goes into it and the fact that it has such a high placement and retention rate in the homes shows that.”

According to Wooten, a group of marketing students from the University of Florida select the theme of each academy and name each dog based on its personality. Past themes have included “Rolling Bone,” “Pups of the Caribbean” and “The Wizard of Pawz.”

While there are a number of inmate dog training programs in Florida, Wooten said Paws on Parole is the only program that themes each group of dogs and names each one based off their individual personalities.

“The names and themes can stick with people,” Hunter said. “When the theme was Dog Dynasty, people were interested to meet Si or Miss Kay. I don’t watch the show personally, but a lot of people do and it can help them get to know the dogs just a bit more personally.”

The work camp inmates involved in the program are all carefully selected and convicted of minor offenses only.

Inmates teach obedience training while also learning about daily dog care such as feeding, grooming and routine health care. In order to become CGC certified, the dogs must pass ten tests ranging from responding to a call to accepting a friendly stranger.

“It’s a strenuous job because it’s a seven-days-a-week job,” Wooten said. “The dogs are with the inmates 24 hours a day.”

Throughout the eight-week program, there are various outing and adoption events held in Gainesville where potential owners can meet the different dogs and adoption counselors try to find the perfect match.

If a perfect fit is found for one of the dogs, new owners must submit an adoption application and pay a $30 fee that covers spay or neutering, a microchip, all immunizations, flea and heartworm prevention, and a bag of food.

At the end of the eight weeks, a graduation ceremony is held for the inmates and pooches to strut their stuff for their new families. Then the inmates say goodbye one last time before ceremoniously handing off the pet to go home.

“They miss ‘em,” Wooten said. “I’ve actually seen them cry when they leave, but that’s been rare.”

The 36th academy will have its first outing on Saturday, Oct. 25, at Earth Pets Natural Pet Market; a second outing on Saturday, Nov. 8, at Newberry Animal Hospital; and a graduation on Friday, Nov. 21, at the work camp.

Anyone interested in potentially picking up a pet can check www.pawsonparole.com for more information on the dogs up for adoption, how to volunteer and more.

“Anything you’re looking for, you can find in rescue,” said Chelsea Bower, the director of Haile’s Angels Pet Rescue. “You’re saving a life and giving a dog a second life in an awesome home.”

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Hog Infestation Halts Historic Airport Runway

By on October 25th, 2014 | Last updated: October 24, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Hungry hogs have harvested the ground out from under pilots at Williston Municipal Airport’s historic grass runway.

The grass runway, spanning 2,600 feet, has been closed to the public for about a year, but not to the hogs. Since World War II, the runway has been open on and off. Despite local efforts, wild hog damage and maintenance issues are preventing the runway from getting approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

A wild hog mills around outside the runway enclosure of Williston Municipal Airport. The hogs often explore around a water source by the neighboring rock quarry, Barry said.

Eric Bandin / WUFT News

A wild hog mills around outside the runway enclosure of Williston Municipal Airport. The hogs often explore around a water source by the neighboring rock quarry, Barry said.

The closure is expected to affect the bi-annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s pig roast on Nov. 15.

“Gee wiz, we got the longest public use, grass runway north of the Okeechobee — I can’t understand why we don’t use it,” said Stan Barry, a 40-year veteran pilot and president of the Williston EAA chapter.

Without the FAA’s blessing, if an accident were to happen on the grass runway, the city would be held liable. Damage from the feral hog infestation added another hurdle to seeking federal approval, Williston City Manager Scott Littman said.

Within the next 30 days, Williston city management will begin a runway assessment to determine recovery potential.

Grass runway 18/36 is awaiting repairs to the damages left by wild hogs earlier this year. Burrows and kicked-up ground was left on the runway after the hogs.

Eric Bandin / WUFT News

Grass runway 18/36 is awaiting repairs to the damages left by wild hogs earlier this year. Burrows and kicked-up ground were left on the runway after the hogs.

Many local pilots have expressed interest in seeing the runway fixed. Some have even offered to help maintain it themselves, said Ryan Foote, owner of the Sky Chiefs Aviation school operating out of Williston Municipal Airport.

Grass runways are particularly favorable as landing spots for antique and experimental aircraft, many of which are “tail-draggers,” or old-model planes with two wheels in the front and one in the back. Over the past five years, many pilots and owners of these specialty aircraft have brought their planes to the EAA’s pig roast, at which dozens of different aircraft models are on display.

The pig roast, funded by donations, last April brought in a fewer number of pilots due to the runway closure. Barry said pilots called in admitting they would rather stay home than run their tires out on a concrete runway.

There are also year-round uses for the runway other than the pig roast. As one of the few remaining grass turf runways in North Florida, it has served as a valuable training tool for emergency landings, Foote said.

“Sure from the standpoint of upkeep it’s a money issue,” Foote said. “But it’s more about getting the city to accept the responsibility of keeping a good thing open.”

Recovering the runway comes down to equipment, time and manpower. Recently, a hired hunter and a fence upgrade around the perimeter have kept the hogs from causing further damage, said Wayne Middleton, supervisor of the Williston Municipal Airport.

“Holding them at bay is all you can hope for because you can’t (get) rid of them completely,” said Bill Giuliano, professor and wildlife extension specialist at the University of Florida. “They’ll always be attracted to areas that provide food for them.”

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Teacher Conference Aims to Bring Global Perspective Into Classrooms

By on October 24th, 2014 | Last updated: October 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Priscilla Zelaya remembers the high school teacher who made her world a little bigger.

“Peter Corrado,” she said. “We still keep in touch.”

Zelaya said Corrado was the first teacher she ever had who exposed her class to global issues like poverty and conflict. Corrado opened his students’ eyes, she said, but kept his mouth shut.

“He never told us what to think or how to feel,” Zelaya said. “He allowed us to make our own judgments about it all.”

Today,  Zelaya leads a non-profit organization, organizes volunteer trips back and forth to Haiti and teaches Gainesville students about global issues, all while pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Florida.

Zelaya is also organizing the first annual Gainesville Connected conference; a gathering specifically for teachers looking to provide their students with an international perspective. The goal of the conference is to help teachers learn how to encourage their students to think globally and to provide them with the resources to do so.

“We want to develop global citizens and start it soon,” she said. “By doing this, we can help teachers to help their students break down stereotypes and expand their horizons.”

Zelaya has been working with Bertrhude Albert for several years after founding their non-profit organization, Projects for Haiti in 2011.  Together they have teamed up with Haitians to help empower Haitian communities to improve education and sustain their efforts amid the devastation left by the 2010 earthquake. The Gainesville Connected conference is their latest project.

Zelaya said she and Albert started promoting global education locally with an initiative called 10K Connected, which gets them inside local classrooms to educate students about concepts such as global poverty. Since last October, they have reached more than 3,000 students in northern Florida. After seeing positive results from 10K Connected, Zelaya and Albert designed the conference to expand their efforts and give teachers the resources to promote global education themselves.

Gainesville Connected will take place Nov. 1 at the Alachua County Library Headquarters. There, registered teachers will hear from educators who have ties all over the world.

“It seemed like an ongoing thing that students are not too connected to what’s outside of Alachua County or their personal bubbles,” Albert said. “I believe strongly, and with all my heart, that having social consciousness and being socially aware isn’t something that a person should start figuring out in college.”

Scott Miller, a conference coordinator for Gainesville Connected, can attest to that. He said he didn’t start learning about many current global issues until he began school at the University of Florida three years ago. While working with 10K Connected, Miller said he meets high school seniors who are unaware of many of the issues facing global communities.

“It’s a real shock to them when they learn the facts about poverty in the rest of the world and what some people live through every day,” Miller said.

He believes encouraging students to learn about global issues is crucial. Education has always been a part of his life, so he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help create the conference.

“My mom has actually been a teacher for over 30 years,” he said. “The moment I told her what I was getting involved with, she signed up.”

Albert adds that by engaging in activities that make students socially empathetic, students and teachers can begin to see professional and personal development in their own lives. She recalls giving a presentation on poverty to a group of young students, one of whom had behavioral issues. After the presentation, she said, things started to change.

“The teacher called to tell us that the boy had made a bit of a turnaround,” Albert said. “He came in the very next day to donate a bar of soap and became really interested in helping people. The empathy he developed reshaped the way he interacts with others.”

Miller said he is excited to be a part of something he believes will produce real results for local teachers and students. He thinks that exposing students to global issues will help some of them find projects they are passionate about and can eventually pursue.

“I feel like I’m a part of something that has some real world impact,” he said, “and I’ve never felt that before.”

Albert says the conference will be structured much like a Ted Talk. Each speaker will have 15 minutes to share the ways their global efforts are impacting local students. Afterward, the teachers will learn how to take what they’ve been shown and apply it practically in their own classrooms.

Zelaya said they currently have 100 teachers signed up. Some, she said, will be driving as far as Daytona, Orlando and West Palm Beach to attend the conference in Gainesville. After receiving positive feedback from registered teachers, Zelaya said her team is already planning next year’s conference.

Zelaya and Albert have extended the deadline to Oct. 31 to allow for about 50 more teachers to sign up.

Zelaya adds that what she and Albert are working to do in classrooms ties into Common Core objectives for teachers. Common Core’s standards, Zelaya said, include critical thinking skills and public speaking, which are two essential components in what she is working to bring to the classroom. 

Much like Mr. Corrado did for her, Zelaya wants to help other teachers open their students’ eyes to the rest of the world. Even if people think some of the information goes over a child’s head, she thinks this sort of development is necessary.

“In every classroom I’ve been to, elementary through high school, the kids want to know what they can do to help,” Zelaya said. “Development like this tugs at the heart and truly sticks with the student.”

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Oct. 24, 2014: Afternoon News in 90

By and on October 24th, 2014 | Last updated: October 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Melissa Walpole produced this update.

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