WUFT News

Gainesville Gas Prices Remain Above Average

By on October 15th, 2014 | Last updated: October 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Gainesville is $3.29, according to GasBuddy.com. Prices can be found higher or lower throughout the city as shown at this Citgo on the corner of South Main Street and Southwest 16th Avenue.

Seantyel Hardy / WUFT News

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Gainesville is $3.29, according to GasBuddy.com. Prices can be found higher or lower throughout the city as shown at this Citgo on the corner of South Main Street and Southwest 16th Avenue.

Gainesville drivers are still paying some of the highest gas prices in Florida at local stations, even though the rest of the nation’s prices are falling.

The supply of gasoline is currently high and demand is low—causing gas prices to fall, according to Mark Jenkins, senior project manager for American Automobile Association (AAA).

“United States is now the lead oil producer in the world, and so, essentially, we’re producing more oil than we have in decades,” Jenkins said. “That’s helping us to have more supply of oil, and that’s helping to keep downward pressure on oil prices and gas prices.”

Prices have dropped to $2.60 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline in some places around the U.S., according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for GasBuddy.com.

Gas prices in Gainesville are generally higher than other Florida cities, such as Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.

“The reason why you’ll see cheaper prices — let’s say in the Tampa area or Orlando — (or) places like that, it tends to be less about the economics,” Kloza said. “It tends to be less about the wholesale costs and revolves more around the notion of a different kind of retailer.”

Gainesville lacks the abundance of competitive gas station chains that are in those cities, such as Murphy USA, Sam’s Club and Costco.

“They tend to price gasoline very, very aggressively,” Kloza said. “It’s something that’s designed to get you inside the Costco or the Sam’s Club to buy the 60-ounce jar of mayonnaise, or whatever.”

The average Florida price per gallon for regular unleaded gas is $3.22 as of Oct. 15, according to the GasBuddy.com tracker. The average for Gainesville is $3.29.

Another possible reason for higher costs here than in other big-name Florida cities is location. Distribution points for gas are in Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. Gainesville consumers may be paying a transportation fee for their gas on top of the market price, Kloza said.

The Chevron at 109 S. University Ave. County Route 346, on Archer Road, is currently the cheapest place to buy gas in the Gainesville area, according to GainesvilleGasPrices.com by GasBuddy.com.

As far as setting prices go, Chevron manager Sunny Rebello said that he has no control.

“We got a good price from the board,” Rebello said. “The company controls the gas. We don’t control it.”

Discrepancies in pricing is due to varying Florida fuel taxes, with a statewide tax of $0.171 across the board for each county, then additional taxes that are set by the county itself.

The lowest total fuel tax imposed is in Franklin County with a $0.28-tax. The highest is $0.36, which is the tax amount of Alachua, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Lee, Leon, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, Polk, Putnam, St. Lucie, Sarasota, Suwannee and Volusia counties, according to the Florida Department of Revenue.

Surprisingly, Franklin County currently has a higher average gas price than Alachua County even with having the lowest fuel tax, according to the price tracker.

Gas prices historically fluctuate. The highest recorded Florida average since 2008 was about $4.07 in July of that year. The lowest recorded was just a few months later at about $1.63 in January 2009, according to price tracker statistics.

Gainesville drivers probably will not see gas sell lower than $2 per gallon during the current price drop, like what happened in 2009, but prices will continue to drop.

Kloza predicts that within the next two weeks continuing to Veterans Day, gas prices will go down until they are below $3 per gallon, even here in Gainesville.

Business | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

W. Kent Fuchs Of Cornell Named President Of UF

By on October 15th, 2014 | Last updated: October 16, 2014 at 11:19 am
W. Kent Fuchs, Ph. D., provost for Cornell University meets Albert and Alberta in Weimer Hall on the campus of the University of Florida on Tuesday. Fuchs was selected as UF's 12th president-designate on Wednesday.

Steven P. Johnson / University of Florida

W. Kent Fuchs, Ph. D., provost for Cornell University meets Albert and Alberta in Weimer Hall on the campus of the University of Florida on Tuesday. Fuchs was selected as UF's 12th president-designate on Wednesday.

Update, 1 p.m.: Cornell University’s Media Relations Office released a statement on Fuchs’ selection as the University of Florida’s next president by David Skorton, president of Cornell.

Skorton wrote, “Kent’s impact on all aspects of Cornell during his tenure as provost cannot be overstated. The legacy he will leave behind will be felt by all Cornellians, and by colleagues at other top research universities, for decades to come.”

Fuchs will bring “a deep understanding of the issues, constituencies and avenues for collaborative action that are central to the life of a university” to the presidency.

Update, 12:50 p.m.: At a press conference following the announcement, Fuchs expressed his enthusiasm and excitement to “serve in this role” at the University of Florida. “It’s going to be a great privilege to be a part of the Gator Nation,” he said.

Fuchs hopes to take the university to new heights by working with students at all levels, as well as faculty and staff to achieve their goals.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us,” he said.

Fuchs is “incredibly optimistic” about the future of UF. His immediate goals include using the spring semester to “listen, learn and build relationships.”

Following his first semester as president, he hopes to use the coming summer and fall semesters to implement UF’s preeminence goals, which he fully endorses.

Fuchs said he has little time to finish his work at Cornell before assuming his new position in Florida, but he believes he has at least 10 years left in his academic career to devote to UF.

Update:  According to a release from Steven M. Scott, chair of the UF Board of Trustees and President Search Committee, Fuchs will assume the presidency on Jan. 1, 2015, following ratification by the Florida Board of Governors. The board is schedule to meet on Nov. 5 and 6.

Original Post: W. Kent Fuchs, Ph.D., Provost for Cornell University, has been selected as the University of Florida’s 12th president-designate.

UF’s Board of Trustees made its decision on Wednesday just before noon.

On Tuesday, UF’s search for its next president was narrowed down to Fuchs and current provost of New York University David W. McLaughlin, Ph.D., but Fuchs prevailed after several rounds of interviews and assemblies.

During the final round of interviews on Wednesday morning, Fuchs said he feels he has been preparing for this opportunity for 20 years.

“I will devote for the next ten years all my energies, all my experience, all my talents and abilities to achieve the aspirations that you all have for this great University,” he said during interviews on Tuesday.

UF Trustee Jason Rosenberg said the board was looking for a president with humility and kindness. Fuchs reiterated the importance of these qualities, but he also said a president cannot be too humble externally – the leader of the Gator Nation must promote the university.

Patty Ard, administrative manager at Cornell’s Office of the Provost, could not formally comment on UF’s selection but did say, “The University of Florida is in wonderful hands.”

Wesley Kent Fuchs, Ph.D.

Wesley Kent Fuchs, Ph.D.

Fuchs, 59, was the youngest of the three final candidates. He received his doctorate in 1985 from the University of Illinois and is a former professor in the areas of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois and Purdue University. He also served as a professor and the Joseph Silbert Dean of the College of Engineering at Cornell University from July 2002 to December 2008 and has been provost since January 2009.

 

Editor’s Note: WUFT News is operated by the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications.

An earlier version of this post cited Fuchs as president-elect. However, because his position is not elected, WUFT News has amended its style to reflect Fuchs’ position as president-designate.

University of Florida | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oct. 15, 2014: Morning News in 90

By on October 15th, 2014 | Last updated: October 15, 2014 at 10:52 am


Kathryn Williams produced this update.

News in 90 | Leave a comment

Florida Theater Renovations A Bright Spot In Limited Music Venue Options

By on October 14th, 2014 | Last updated: October 15, 2014 at 8:34 pm
The Florida Theater

Jay Martin / WUFT News

The Florida Theater has been leased and renamed multiple times since opening in 1928.

The historic downtown Gainesville music venue known as The Florida Theater is under renovation and will soon reopen its doors under a much simpler name: The Venue.

Located at 233 W. University Ave., the building has been leased out and renamed multiple times since first opening as The Florida Theatre on Sept. 10, 1928. Previous names include The Great Southern Music Hall, The Palace, Element Night Club and Forum.

Since the building has been closed following its last show, DJ Carnage on Jan. 19, Gainesville has seen a decline in concerts, and many are eager to see its doors open once again.

Casey Dickens, the building’s new manager, said he is currently “playing the waiting game” with the landlord over fire code repairs but should be ready to open the building soon. He hopes a consistently fun atmosphere and high-quality entertainment will keep the doors open this time around.

“I want the people that are here in Gainesville for the next four years, or six years or eight years, or however long you’re here, to remember this place,” Dickens said. “I remember when I was in college and I went to The Florida Theater, and I saw this band or this show and it was awesome, and that’s what I’m after. I’m after the epic event.”

The interior of the building is getting brand-new carpet, paint, lighting, sound equipment and more. A new VIP area in the main room is in the works, and the bathrooms, which Dickens said haven’t been updated in about 12 years, are getting a much-needed improvement.

“I think it’s going to open just at the right time,” Dickens said. “It’s just enough to give people a taste of ‘Hey, The Venue is back, and it’s new’ before spring rolls around and everyone knows it’s the place to party.”

With a spacious main room and a descending, amphitheater-like floor plan, few other venues in Gainesville can match the building’s capacity for large-scale shows, and its absence has been felt.

“Lack of venues is killing Gainesville at the moment,” said Antonio Mercado, owner of The Dynasty Group, a Gainesville promotional company. “Another viable music venue in Gainesville would make a world of difference.”

Last fall, Gainesville hosted more than 10 large concerts from prominent DJs, such as Flux Pavilion, TJR and Markus Schulz, but this fall, only three big-ticket shows have been scheduled.

Two of them, Dada Life and Benny Benassi, were held at Level Nightclub, located across the street from the Florida Theater building. The third, the Electro Chemical Show featuring co-headliners Audien and Cazzette on Oct. 24, was originally booked for University Air Center in Gainesville before relocating to Level due to venue restrictions.

“We absolutely had to either divert or cancel shows altogether due to Florida Theater being closed,” Mercado said. He openly expressed his dislike for Level, calling it “barely adequate for shows.”

Level was the planned venue for Excision, a prominent DJ from Canada, on Feb. 26 until it was canceled after the artist arrived and saw the building.

Excision took to Facebook to explain the cancellation, claiming the building had no power, recent troubles with the fire marshal and sound ordinance complaints.

Excision performed in Gainesville about seven months earlier in The Florida Theater building on July 3, 2013 without any issues.

Jason Rubel, a local DJ, promoter and Grooveshark employee, has seen many venues in Gainesville come and go and knows how much of a difference having a venue like The Florida Theater building would make.

“There’s a lot of good things coming in the future, so hopefully, The Florida Theater can stay a part of that and help keep the culture of music alive here,” Rubel said. “If you have a big venue like that, you can have that as your ultimate venue, and then the other venues can benefit from having smaller shows.”

Arts and Entertainment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bicyclists And Drivers Express Concern Over Safety Signs On Hawthorne Trail

By on October 14th, 2014 | Last updated: October 20, 2014 at 1:43 pm
Richard Rahal rides his bike down the Gaineville-Hawthorne trail four or five days a week. Rahal welcomes the trail's expansion but has concerns over a lack of traffic signs.

Sabrina Alvarez / WUFT News

Richard Rahal rides his bike down the Gaineville-Hawthorne trail four or five days a week. Rahal welcomes the trail's expansion but has concerns over a lack of traffic signs.

Riding 28 miles a day may seem excessive to some, but for Richard Rahal, it’s a regular day down the Hawthorne Trail.

Rahal could even increase the intensity of his workout now that the city plans to extend its 16-mile bike trail.

The new project, which is overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation, will add .7 miles from State Road 20 to Palatka. The Gainesville-Hawthorne trail currently stretches from the city of Gainesville’s Boulware Springs Park through the Paynes Prairie Preserve Park.

Even though Rahal is excited about the renovation, he is concerned about the lack of stop and yield signs for drivers at intersections. Rahal said bicyclists do have a stop sign when crossing but thinks there should be caution from both ends.

“I think what irritates drivers about bicyclists more than anything is just the failure to observe the traffic laws,” Rahal said.

This also concerns drivers like Monica Griffis who only see a bike sign before crossing over the bike trails.

This bike sign is the only sign a driver sees before approaching the road and trail intersection on the Hawthorne Trail. The expansion project includes new signs, according to Mayor of Hawthorne Matthew Surrency.

Sabrina Alvarez / WUFT News

This bike sign is the only sign a driver sees before approaching the road and trail intersection on the Hawthorne Trail. The expansion project includes new signs, according to Mayor of Hawthorne Matthew Surrency.

“The biggest problem that we have is that bikers never stop right here,” she said. “So, if there was a bigger intersection for the cyclists and the drivers, and it’s more clear cut what to do, I think that would help. There is always lots of pretty close accidents right here,” she said.

Griffis, who lives near the area and has to cross over the bike trail daily, said adding more specific safety precaution signs could help avoid accidents.

Mayor of Hawthorne Matthew Surrency said the logistics of new project will cost $420,000, and the project list includes adding signs and other safety precautions for both bicyclists and drivers.

Surrency said the additions will include “pavement signage as well as regular signage” to improve safety as part of a “comprehensive transportation plan.”

The project will also widen the trail for bikers and drivers to share going into the downtown area.

FDOT spokesperson Rebecca White said even though the project is expected to start in summer 2016, people are still welcome to submit comments and suggestions on the trail extension and how to make the trail better and safer for the community .

If you have any ideas or comments on the project you can visit www.nflroads.com/goto/hawthornetrail.com

 

Local | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oct. 14, 2014: Afternoon News in 90

By , and on October 14th, 2014 | Last updated: October 14, 2014 at 4:40 pm

 

News in 90 | Leave a comment

UF Presidential Search Committee Moves Forward with Two Candidates

By on October 14th, 2014 | Last updated: October 14, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Kent Fuchs, left, and David McLaughlin are the two finalists for the UF president position.

Kent Fuchs, left, and David McLaughlin are the two finalists for the UF president position.

The University of Florida Presidential Search Committee narrowed the field of candidates from three to two and forwarded the recommendations to the Board of Trustees for consideration as UFs’ 12th president.

Dr. W. Kent Fuchs and Dr. David W. McLaughlin move forward in the search for a new president for the University of Florida. Dr. Sibrandes Poppema was not selected to continue on in the presidential search.

The University of Florida Presidential Search Committee held interviews Tuesday morning to determine which candidates would be selected as finalists. The candidates were asked questions on their strategies to retain and empower faculty, the land-grant mission of the university, student career opportunities, campus diversity and inclusion, NCAA athletics and financial management.

Dr. W. Kent Fuchs, current provost of Cornell University, said he is ready to make a commitment to this University.

“I will devote for the next ten years all my energies, all my experience, all my talents and abilities to achieve the aspirations that you all have for this great University,” Fuchs said.

Dr. David W. McLaughlin, current provost of New York University, said he is also prepared to take on the position.

“I really believe in the institution of the American research university,” he said, as it is where new knowledge is created, learned and transferred.

On pre-eminence: The University of Florida has a pre-eminence plan in place to establish itself as one of the nation’s best public research universities.

McLaughlin said that as president he would ensure the success of this plan by making himself available to meet with faculty candidates personally.

“It shows that the university is serious about their area,” he said.

Fuchs emphasized the importance of UF expansion. Presence in major urban areas helps the institution with visibility and gives the students new opportunities, he said.

On the land-grant mission: As a land-grant institution, the University of Florida is designated as one of the two universities in Florida that is granted land by the state to promote education and research in the fields of agriculture, science and engineering.

“It extends beyond that [agriculture, veterinary medicine]. It really is the entire university…even in the humanities,” Fuchs argued. As a land-grant University, UF has a role and responsibility in engaging society.

McLaughlin said that he supports agricultural activities, including sustainability and conservation, because it is important for the future of the planet. However, he also believes that the arts and humanities are at the center of a general education.

“They are what create a well-rounded citizen.” McLaughlin said.

On NCAA athletics: For the past six years, the University of Florida has placed first in the Southeastern Conference All-Sports Trophy.

To balance this tradition with academics, McLaughlin said he would ensure that strong leadership was in place in the athletic department to ”make sure that they [student-athletes] are treated absolutely fairly with no favoritism.” Student-athletes need to be successful in courses and graduate.

Fuchs commented on the visibility that sports at the Division 1 level bring to a University. “Seizing on that opportunity to bring together people that can benefit the University through philanthropy is a great opportunity,” he said.

The final two candidates will participate in campus and faculty assemblies Tuesday evening and then meet with the Board of the Trustees Wednesday morning, after which the new president-elected will be selected.

Education | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pictures: UF Presidential Finalists Visits

By on October 14th, 2014 | Last updated: October 14, 2014 at 5:11 pm

The three candidates had a busy schedule on their interview day on the UF campus, starting in the early morning with a meeting with the search committee, various constituencies and a photo and video session with the University communications office.

 

University of Florida | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Florida’s Fight Against Flu More Forceful This Season

By on October 14th, 2014 | Last updated: October 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm
A child participates in the Teach Flu a Lesson program and receives his annual flu vaccination. (PRNewsFoto/Families Fighting Flu)

A child participates in the Teach Flu a Lesson program and receives his annual flu vaccination. (PRNewsFoto/Families Fighting Flu)

Warding off the dreaded flu bug just got easier for Florida students.

Since last year, 16 more counties have joined expanding program efforts against the threat of influenza this season to better protect communities.

Almost half of Florida’s 67 counties are now participating in the “Teach Flu a Lesson” program, a campaign promoted by Healthy Schools LLC and Families Fighting Flu (FFF).

“Teach Flu a Lesson” began its pilot launch last year and allows children in grade school the opportunity to receive the nasal-inhaled flu vaccine, FluMist Quadrivalent, at no cost, even without medical insurance.

“The program has grown significantly this season, and a lot more counties have joined on and are participating,” said Laura Scott, the executive director of FFF.

Healthy Schools vaccinated a total of 11,000 students in northeast Florida during the 2013 flu season. This year, Healthy Schools and FFF hope to vaccinate more than 200,000 students across the state after they announced their partnership in September.

“Children are the key spreaders of influenza,” Scott said. “We’re kind of building this cocoon around the children to make sure that the elderly and other people within the community don’t get sick.”

Fewer than 1,000 children were vaccinated in Duval County during the program’s pilot season last year, and the program mostly focused vaccinating north of Volusia County.

This year, however, the program has vaccinated about 13,000 children so far at 163 schools in Duval County alone between Sept. 2 and Sept. 8, according to Katie Luebker, vice president of operations of Healthy Schools.

Luebker said the program recently expanded with two additional offices, in Ft. Lauderdale and Lakeland, to service regions of Florida in addition to its Jacksonville headquarters.

Healthy Schools is the only private company in Florida currently operating this type of program, according to the organization’s website.

Caroline Wiles, the executive assistant of Healthy Schools, said the program has expanded to 10 teams of nurses who each service about 30 schools a day.

“We are the largest (vaccination program for influenza) in the state of Florida, absolutely, and are eventually looking to expand outside of Florida,” Wiles said.

Healthy Schools is a company that focuses on providing flu vaccines to elementary through high school students at no cost to families, schools or health departments, according to the website.

FFF is a national advocacy organization, located in Arlington, Va., primarily made up of families who have lost children to influenza or whose families have experienced the tragedy of having a child hospitalized due to the disease.

Wiles said Healthy Schools and FFF recently partnered to spread awareness about the influenza virus and the importance of being vaccinated while in school.

“Our partnership is trying to get across the importance of vaccinations each year, as well as knowing the facts about flu,” Wiles said. “I think a lot of people don’t realize how potentially harmful the virus can be.”

The program is also implementing voluntary staff vaccinations through county request only, but it varies by county.

Luebker said Palm Beach and Okaloosa counties have already requested staff vaccinations, and she imagines most counties will next year.

“Teach Flu a Lesson” will be vaccinating Hillsborough County from Oct. 8 to Oct. 17, and the program will then tackle Polk and Seminole counties.

The program will continue to run clinics in schools all the way through Christmas break in December.

“We’re on a much bigger scale here, and it’s incredible,” Luebker said. “It’s been an adventure, and it’s been exciting to work with new staff.”

Health and Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Search for Ancestors Finds Popularity with County Residents

By on October 14th, 2014 | Last updated: October 14, 2014 at 11:40 am

When Kathy McCarthy Dugan’s mother encouraged her to find out more about the family tree, she didn’t realize she’d still be adding to all of her research eight years later.

“She was dying,” McCarthy Dugan said of her mother, Dorothy McCarthy. “We sat down several afternoons and talked about the family history and how far back it went — each branch, what she knew — and basically, what she knew started me on my journey.”

McCarthy Dugan isn’t alone in the search for family history.

Residents across Alachua County are heading to local libraries and the Family History Center at the Mormon Church in Gainesville to take advantage of the free-of-charge genealogy collection and databases.

In honor of Family History Month in October, Sylvia Ashwell, Alachua County genealogy librarian, is even offering the community introductory genealogical seminars to teach people how to work with the library’s materials.

“I’ve noticed that more and more patrons are trying to find out who their ancestors were by using our online databases, Ancestry.com Library Edition and Heritage Quest,” Ashwell said. “I wanted to be able to reach these and other people who wanted to start finding out more about their family by showing them these resources and what else we have available.”

Although the participation in Ashwell’s seminars varies week to week, sometimes with as few as five in attendance and sometimes as many as 30, independent pursuit of the history of individuals’ family trees is something eager residents in the community can’t seem to get enough of.

McCarthy Dugan is just one example of a county resident making huge strides in her search.

She was inspired to continue with her research because of what a character her great-grandfather was according to her mother.

Kathy McCarthy Dugan enters her grandfather’s name through another search engine before pulling up a type of registration card assigned to him during World War II.

Kathy McCarthy Dugan enters her grandfather’s name through another search engine before pulling up a type of registration card assigned to him during World War II.

After reviewing his records, she was contacted about an honor being presented to her great-grandfather, which she would have never known about if it hadn’t been for her discoveries through the center.

“All of a sudden, an individual through Ancestry.com contacted me from this New Jersey state corrections office institution where my great-grandfather was a policeman,” McCarthy Dugan said. “He was looking into individuals who fell in the line of duty who were skipped being recognized, and from there, he provided me with all of the articles that he had looked up on my great-grandfather.”

Shortly after, McCarthy Dugan learned of a marble plaque being put in her great-grandfather’s name in New Jersey in September 2013 and in Washington, D.C. in May 2013.

McCarthy Dugan said she believes the individuals who contacted her about her great-grandfather’s plaque were motivated to do so after they saw how active she was in the databases.

Rita Galloway, a worker at the Family History Center, explained now more than ever before is the best time for people to find out more about their roots because the center helps individuals gain access to microfilms about their families that can be viewed through their microfilm readers.

She said finding out about your family history can be exciting no matter where you are in your search.

“I especially love the beginners,” Galloway said. “You only begin once, and family history is never-ending.”

Local | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments