Hourly News Update
By Marie Edinger on September 10th, 2014 | Last updated: September 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm
The FWC hopes to start up new efforts to prevent the further spread of lionfish and work on extraction. Extraction programs are available for individuals who spot a lionfish in Florida, including a smartphone app.
“The first thing we want you to do is report it,” said FWC spokesperson Amanda Nalley. “You can report it using the Report Florida Lionfish app, or you can also report it to us on our website. The second thing we want you to do is – if you feel comfortable doing so – remove the lionfish from Florida waters.”
New penalties will soon be put in place for those in possession of lionfish for purposes other than research or who don’t possess a permit.
While the breeding of lionfish can be dangerous, Nalley said doing so for research purposes is still permitted. Research may help solve how to better control the population.
Nalley said lionfish have been reproducing and growing in numbers without any form of population control. As new competitors to coral reefs, they feed on the animals there until the reef is left completely barren before moving on. This leaves algae to grow to unhealthy levels, detracting from the well-being of the ecosystem.
Lionfish also prey on larger species that are important to the Florida economy, like grouper and snapper. Lionfish have affected Florida’s wildlife since the 1990s.
By Kathryn Williams on September 10th, 2014 | Last updated: September 10, 2014 at 11:17 am
Cindy Kabiru produced this update.
By Jonathan Muñoz and Emma Neagu on September 9th, 2014 | Last updated: September 9, 2014 at 5:45 pm
By WUFT Staff on September 9th, 2014 | Last updated: September 9, 2014 at 2:04 pm
There was a falsely reported fire at Citrus Springs Middle School this morning.
Secretary Rachel Bender said there was a problem with the air conditioning unit that was installed over the summer.
A strange odor was coming from the unit and smoke entered into the classroom, but there were never any flames.
The school took precautionary measures but have since resumed their normal classes.
By Taylor Widom on September 9th, 2014 | Last updated: September 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm
Alachua County public schools now require students to scan their student ID before boarding a school bus.
The IDs, which K-12 students have been using since the beginning of the school year to purchase lunch and check out books, were issued as an added safety feature during replacement of the district’s bus routing system.
Each card contains a student-specific bar code that is recorded into the new GPS tracking system after it is swiped. Officials will then be able to identify when and where a student was transported on a bus.
The new system will cost the district $83,000 this year and an additional $112,000 over the next four years. The ID cards amount to an additional $10,000.
James Speer, director of transportation for Alachua County Public Schools, said the new system should reduce the stress of district bus drivers, who will no longer feel the need to keep track of students’ names and whereabouts.
Alachua County school bus driver Troyanna Hamm said the first day of swiping went well for even the youngest of students at J.J. Finley Elementary School. But she said many of them were scared to approach the machine, and big stops took some time.
“It should get better,” Hamm said, addressing fears that the card swiping might slow down students’ commute to and from school.
Cards were activated for transportation purposes Sept. 8.
Eventually, Speer expects the new system to have “a minimal impact in terms of those routes getting on their way as usual.”
Jackie Johnson, spokesperson for Alachua County public schools, stressed that students will not be denied bus access if they forget, or lose, their card.
High school students have used their IDs in the past to access sporting events for a discounted price.
Shayna Gearhart, a first-grade teacher at Finley Elementary, said she hopes carrying the new ID cards will also help teach students a sense of responsibility.
The school board has asked parents to anticipate temporary delays in bus pickups and drop-offs this week as students become more familiar with the system and routes are adjusted to accommodate those who are new or have changed schools.
By Amanda Wood and Leanna Scachetti on September 9th, 2014 | Last updated: September 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm
An American Eagle jet that was scheduled to land at Gainesville Regional Airport Sunday night was unexpectedly diverted to the Jacksonville International Airport.
Both the airline and the airport are still not sure exactly why this happened but passengers of the diverted flight are demanding an explanation.
“I was worried. The people on the plan were worried” said Cynthia Barnett, a passenger on the diverted flight. “[We were wondering] did someone have a heart attack or was there something going on in Gainesville. So that was a worrisome message to hear from the pilot.”
Officials from both Gainesville Regional Airport and American Airlines are investigating the diversion that happened Sunday night just before 11 p.m.
The jet was originally scheduled to arrive at Gainesville regional at 10:44 p.m. but could not get in contact with Gainesville’s tower for permission to land.
After circling Gainesville and awaiting response from the Gainesville tower, the pilot contacted Jacksonville International Airport and decided to land in Jacksonville shortly after.
Laura Aguiar, spokesperson for Gainesville Regional, said the pilot should have known that Gainesville’s tower communications get turned over to Jacksonville after Gainesville closes at 10:30. Plus, she said Jacksonville tower operators should have given the pilot the OK to land in Gainesville.
“The regularly scheduled flight was coming in as it normally does,” Aguiar said, ”and operations were proceeding as normal and the pilots made the decision to divert. But they had access to all the information and equipment they normally would.”
According to Gainesville Regional, the Jacksonville tower takes control of Gainesville at 10:30 pm and no one knows yet why the pilot wasn’t aware of that. Aguiar says the airport has received a lot of comments via email and phone calls and that’s how the airport learned about the situation Monday morning.
“Some of it was miscommunication,” Aguiar said. “We were kind of upset to learn that crews were not forth-coming with information about why they were diverted to Jacksonville and so we are trying to figure out what exactly happened ourselves.”
The worried passengers of the diverted flight were given hotel vouchers in Jacksonville and a flight back to Gainesville Monday morning. Officials with Gainesville regional said this has never happened before and they are doing what they can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Editors Note: We misspelled Laura Aguiar’s name. It has been corrected.
By Bethany Curl on September 9th, 2014 | Last updated: September 12, 2014 at 10:54 am
Cresonia Hsieh / WUFT News permalink
Over 2,000 yards of teal ribbon have been cut and distributed around campus in honor of UF's sexual assault awareness week. Many of these ribbons can be spotted around university trees.
Cresonia Hsieh / WUFT News permalink
University of Florida police chief Linda Stump reminds students of their personal responsibility to pay attention to their surroundings and look out for the wellbeing of fellow students.