Dec. 4, 2014: Morning News In 90

By on December 4th, 2014 | Last updated: December 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

Edwin Exaus produced this update.

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Colorado State’s McElwain Agrees To Be New Florida Football Head Coach

By and on December 4th, 2014 | Last updated: December 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm

UPDATE: Steve McClain, the Florida sports information director, has confirmed McElwain will be introduced at a press conference on Saturday.

Original Post: WUFT News has confirmed Jim McElwain of Colorado State University has agreed to join the University of Florida as the head football coach of the Gators. No official announcement has been made, and a press conference is not expected later Thursday.

Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley met with McElwain in Fort Collins on Tuesday to begin negotiations, which were stalled due to a $7.5-million buyout clause in McElwain’s contract with CSU. These issues have been resolved.

During his three seasons as the head coach for the CSU Rams, McElwain had a 22-16 record. He went 4-8 in 2012 and 8-6 in 2013 with a win in the New Mexico Bowl over the Washington State Cougars. The Rams are currently 10-2, riding a 9-game winning streak before losing to Air Force; the Rams are scheduled to play a bowl game at the end of this season. McElwain was also named the Mountain West Conference’s 2014 Coach of the Year for 2014 on Tuesday.

Prior to becoming head coach at CSU, McElwain was the offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at the University of Alabama, where he coached quarterbacks Greg McElroy and AJ McCarron in two of his four seasons there.

More background information:

CSU had a 9-27 record in the three seasons before McElwain became the head coach.

Prior to becoming head coach at CSU, McElwain had a long coaching career spanning 30 seasons, which began at his alma mater Eastern Washington University. After playing quarterback from 1980 to 1983, McElwain held several different EWU coaching positions from 1985 to 1994, including quarterbacks and receivers coach.

He went on to become the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks and receivers coach at Montana State University from 1995 to 1999, and went on to coach the receivers and special teams at the University of Louisville from 2000 to 2002.

From Louisville, McElwain accepted the assistant coaching position at Michigan State University in 2003 and led the Spartans to the Alamo Bowl in his first season there.

McElwain then left college football for a brief stint, becoming quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders, but later returned to the collegiate level as offensive coordinator for Fresno State.

After leaving Fresno, McElwain joined Nick Saban at the University of Alabama in 2008 to 2011, where he helped lead the Crimson Tide to two national championships.

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In The News: Fishing Therapy Documentary Airs In Florida, Waldo County Owes Alachua, New Orlando Soccer Stadium Fuels Economy, Update On Bill Cosby

By on December 4th, 2014 | Last updated: December 4, 2014 at 10:26 am
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Partnership For Strong Families Hosts Holiday Toy Drive

By on December 3rd, 2014 | Last updated: December 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm

A local organization held a holiday toy drive to benefit children victimized by abuse or neglect in Gainesville Wednesday.

A pile of donated presents sits at Northwest Baptist Church waiting to be distributed by Partnership for Strong Families to children who were victims of abuse.

A pile of donated presents sits at Northwest Baptist Church waiting to be distributed by Partnership for Strong Families to children who were victims of abuse. ” credit=”Cassidy Whitson / WUFT News

The Partnership for Strong Families, an organization that covers 13 counties in Florida, held the drive to provide gifts for over 1,000 disadvantaged children in Alachua County. The drive will run until Friday.

These children range from newborns to 18-year-olds, said Jenn Petion, director of communications and government relations for Partnership for Strong Families.

Each child will receive three to five presents, making the overall total of presents donated over 5,000.

Petion and a few other volunteers spent 14 hours receiving and wrapping presents Tuesday.

Jenn Petion with the Partnership for Strong Families sorts presents Wednesday. The organization was hosting a toy drive benefitting children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

Jenn Petion with the Partnership for Strong Families sorts presents Wednesday. The organization was hosting a toy drive benefitting children who are victims of abuse and neglect. ” credit=”Cassidy Whitson / WUFT News

The children who benefit from this drive are those who have an open case with the organization. These children are reported to be living in homes with unsafe environments and are either being monitored by a case worker from Partnership for Strong Families or have been put in foster care.

The toy drive was held at Northwest Baptist Church next to Buchholz High School and received its donations from community sponsors, said Petion.

“We don’t use a single state dollar,” she said of all the gifts tallied, totaling over $90,000.

Some of the largest sponsors include Santa Fe College, several University of Florida departments, James Moore Financial, Greenhouse Church, the VA Hospital and North Florida Regional Medical Center.

The program does not operate like typical holiday donation drives where patrons drop off gifts. Instead, caseworkers take the top three gift wishes from each child and submit a list to donors who then get the presents each child specifically wants.

However, not all contributions are from large donors. There are many members of the community who sponsor one or two childs’ gifts for the holiday season.

Julie Szydlowski and her family adopted two children this year, an 11-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl.

She said she loves what Partnership for Strong Families is doing in her community and that her donations will go straight into the hands of these children.

“We’re so happy to be able to help,” she said.

This is Szydlowski’s second year participating in the holiday toy drive, and she plans to continue for as long as it is held.

She has two children of her own and uses them as a starting point on what to buy for the two children she is sponsoring.

She purchased a remote control car, a skateboard, a hanging-door basketball hoop and sneakers for the young boy. For the baby girl, she bought educational toys, plush stuffed animals, books and little dresses.

Szydlowski and her family plan to adopt a child out of foster care one day, but until then she is happy helping the children through Partnership for Strong Families.

“There’s so many people in this tiny little town of ours who just need a little bit.”

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Grace Marketplace Waits For Funds From the City and County

By on December 3rd, 2014 | Last updated: December 3, 2014 at 5:50 pm


Since October, Grace Marketplace has continued to provide services to the homeless and pay for its staffing while waiting for the city of Gainesville and Alachua County to provide reimbursements. Grace Marketplace is currently working on a new agreement with the city on how the homeless shelter will receive its funding. As of now, the shelter only has a verbal agreement from the city and county that the balance for the previous months will roll over to the balance in the new agreement. It costs $6,319.50 to keep the pavilion open every month and pay for staffing.

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Rotary Club Volunteer Receives Award After Decades of Service

By on December 3rd, 2014 | Last updated: December 3, 2014 at 5:52 pm


Brent Williams’ 63rd birthday became exceptionally special after receiving the Service Above Self Award from the Rotary Club of Gainesville. On Tuesday, Williams was recognized at a luncheon for his work spanning decades throughout the country in areas ranging from hurricane relief to youth leadership.

In 2013, Williams was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but his daughter said, “He hasn’t let it slow down his passion.”

Williams had a career at WUFT News for 34 years.


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Dec. 3, 2014: Afternoon News in 90

By and on December 3rd, 2014 | Last updated: December 3, 2014 at 3:22 pm

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In The News: Hospice Chaplain Faces Molestation Charges, Florida Teacher Pay Not Competitive In Big Districts, Winston Enters Second Day Of Hearings

By on December 3rd, 2014 | Last updated: December 3, 2014 at 1:48 pm
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UF Receives Low Credibility Shooting Threat Via Twitter

By on December 3rd, 2014 | Last updated: December 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm
This a screenshot of two tweets sent to @GatorZoneNews Tuesday night.

This is a screenshot of two tweets sent to @GatorZoneNews Tuesday night.” Screenshot via Twitter.

UPDATE, 3:35 p.m.: University of Florida Police Department Captain Jeff Holcomb said the department was first notified of a shooting threat to the university at 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

He said there was “no rush” to send out a text alert that evening because the threat was for the following day. Holcomb said he believes UFPD sent the timely warning email at 1 a.m. Wednesday to give authorities enough time to gather information — he could not confirm this was the reason for the decision.

Kenneth Allen, the University of Florida’s Emergency Manager, said UF Alerts are generally sent out by either UFPD or University Relations.

A release sent to UF students and faculty on Wednesday cited two other incidents of threats sent via Twitter. In addition to threats made to American Airlines in April, Holcomb confirmed the University of Louisville is the other university mentioned in the release.

John Drees, a University of Louisville spokesperson, said the university received information about a shooting threat posted on Twitter on Monday from someone saying he was on his way to the campus to “shoot up U of L.”

“[Our threat] said very specifically that ‘I’m on my way to do this,’ so one thing we did have is a reason to react very quickly and to get a notice out very quickly,” Drees said. “You have to take these [threats] very seriously.”

A text alert was immediately sent out to notify students, faculty and staff and ask them to report suspicious activity to the police department. Within a few minutes of the text being sent, Drees said the police department was contacted by the owner of the Twitter account — he told authorities he did not send the threatening text.

The owner of the account cooperated with the police, and they were able to determine the Twitter account was hacked and the text was a hoax. Within 40 minutes of the initial text alert, a second was sent saying there was no longer any danger.

Drees said the university worked with the Louisville Metro Police Department and the FBI to find the source of the tweet and ensure there was no immediate threat to the campus.  The owner of the Twitter account was cleared, and a petition was filed to summon the juvenile responsible for the threatening tweet to court.

“If you don’t have a specific timeframe or target, it makes it pretty hard to respond to these [situations],” Drees said in response to the UF threat. “Universities have to be vigilant and have to be on guard at all times. I applaud any police department that acts quickly.”

According to Twitter’s abusive behavior policy, users are not allowed to “make direct, specific threats of violence against others.” Targeted harassment or abuse is a violation of the Twitter Rules and Terms of Service.

If you see that someone has tweeted a violent threat. Twitter encourages users to “contact law enforcement so they can accurately assess the validity of the threat.” Twitter can then work with law enforcement to provide information needed for an investigation.

Users can learn how to report tweets here.

Original Post: The University of Florida received shooting threats Tuesday night from 15 separate social media account holders across the U.S. at the exact same time, according to a University of Florida Police Department release.

At precisely 7 p.m., tweets were sent to @GatorZoneNews saying “Im gonna shoot up the college tomorrow.” UFPD Captian Jeff Holcomb said the police department was notified by University Athletic Association staff after they saw the postings on Twitter.

“We began an investigation reaching out to the FBI to try to determine, you know, the level of threat that this may cause the University of Florida,” Holcomb said. “While it’s very general in nature and the threat level is considered low at this time, a threat of that nature is always taken very seriously, and we’ll continue to investigate.”

Holcomb said similar threats have been made to another university and American Airlines.

UF Alert sent out a timely warning email at 1 a.m. Wednesday, and an additional release from University Police Chief Linda Stump was sent at 9:22 a.m. Since the social media threats are believed to be hoaxes, Stump stated that classes would not be canceled but patrols and police visibility on campus have been increased.

“Unfortunately, hoaxes are common so reacting in such a vast and negatively impactful way to threats that are determined by law enforcement to be a low risk is not a viable option,” Stump stated.

Until a credible threat is confirmed, Holcomb said the university will continue to operate normally. Holcomb said the reason UFPD didn’t send out a text to alert students is because there was no “imminent threat of danger.”

“It would be pretty hard to imagine that 15 separate individuals from all over the U.S. had the same thought process at the same very moment,” Holcomb said.


Editor’s Note: An earlier version of the original post stated, “Holcomb said similar threats have been made to another university and American Airlines within the last few days.Threats made to the University of Louisville were made on Monday, but American Airlines received a threat in April.

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Dec. 3, 2014: Morning News in 90

By on December 3rd, 2014 | Last updated: December 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

Kathryn Williams produced this update.

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