Brazilian President Discusses Future Conservation Efforts; FBI Shows First Increase In Marijuana Arrests Since 2009; House, Senate Battle Over Mapping Florida’s Congressional Districts; St. Francis House Lacks Funding, May Close Doors

By on September 29th, 2015 | Last updated: September 29, 2015 at 10:38 am
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Students Who Created Mosaic Recognized 20 Years Later

By on September 28th, 2015 | Last updated: September 29, 2015 at 7:02 pm

In 1995, a group of fifth-grade students worked with Miami artist Carlos Alves to design a mosaic and other artwork in the University of Florida’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator.

Twenty-nine of Alachua County Elementary students worked with Alves, who remembers the students being taken on a field trip to learn about biotechnology.

When the students came into class the next day, they were full of ideas.

“I saw lightbulbs going off,” Alves said.

Bringing in the students was a way to help the Alachua community feel more comfortable with the facility opening, he said.

The site helps biotech startups grow and develop. The mosaic featured animals, people and plants from the students’ designs, and it was displayed in the lobby and main hallway of the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator.

Twenty years later, Sid Martin Biotech and the Alachua Business League are honoring the 29 students who worked on the piece — the only thing left to do is find them.

“We thought it would be wonderful to acknowledge to them how important their artwork has been to these facilities,” said Patti Breedlove, Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator’s director.

An event on Wednesday will recognize these students, whose work has left many impressions, said Breedlove.

“I can’t tell you how many compliments we’ve had over the years from the biotech companies that are in our program in this facility as well as the many, many visitors we get from around the world,” she said.

Stacy Joyner, a senior manager at James More, was one of the fifth graders selected to help create the mosaic in the University of Florida's Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator.

Stacy Joyner, who is now a senior manager at James Moore, was one of the fifth graders selected to help create the mosaic in the University of Florida’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator. Photos courtesy of Stacy Joyner

Stacy Bingham Joyner, a student who helped create the mosaic and stayed in the area now works as a senior manager at James Moore. She doesn’t remember a lot about creating the mosaic, but does remember that it was no ordinary art project.

Since then, she has visited the site and seen the artwork.

“I couldn’t tell you which piece is mine,” she said.

To refresh the students’ memory, the event will screen a short film made about the students 20 years ago.

Five of the students who participated in the project have RSVP’ed to the event, said Breedlove.  Breedlove, along with Joyner, have tried to get in touch with the remaining students through social media and word of mouth.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Breedlove said.

She said many of the students are unaware of the impact that their work has had, and the event hopes to recognize them for their contribution.

The full list of students who participated in the project is Adam Knight, Becky Heitzman, Brandi Slean, Brandon Imler, Bryce Hartley, Chris Snyder, Clayton Tucker, Cynthia Upper, Dawn Alligood, Derek Holton, Duane Johnson, Elijah Croce, Holly McIlvaine, Jared LeFave, Jason Dampier, Jessica Kriechbaum, Jessica O’Steen, Jill Dixon, Jonathan Guay, Jun Komiya, Kristen Beckerink, Matthew Cutler-Holt, Michael Turner, Ross Whitty, Sam Murphy, Sisene Midget, Stacy Bingham Joyner,  Thomas Wicks and Chace Beville.

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Gator Band Will No Longer Use Penalty Chant

By and on September 28th, 2015 | Last updated: September 30, 2015 at 8:14 pm
Florida Gators football

Florida fans react during a third-down defensive play against Tennessee. Greenberry Taylor / WUFT News

During Saturday’s game against Tennessee, Gator fans expected to hear the familiar cue from the band to initiate the “You Can’t Do That” chant.

Instead, they got silence.

Jay Watkins, the UF Associate Director of Athletic Bands, said the University Athletic Association told the band to stop playing the tune, one it usually plays when a penalty is called on the opposing team, because it had received a number of negative e-mails about the accompanying chant morphing into “Move back you suck.”

After the first complaint this season the UAA decided not to play something that could encourage what could be viewed as bad sportsmanship, he said.

“The reason why it’s been stopped is because there have been too many complaints from fans to the athletic department that the student section was saying something else that the fans thought was vulgar and inappropriate,” Watkins said.

“This is a frustrating situation for all and a perfect example of how a few complaints or a few individuals doing the wrong thing negatively affect a great 10-year tradition.”

But the decision to scrap the chant has also generated complaints from University of Florida students when the band wouldn’t accompany the chant at last Saturday’s game.

“I am personally disappointed that we are not being allowed to play a song that has been a band tradition for years,” said Andrew Popp, a member of the Gator band. “I know the band loves playing it and the fans love hearing it.”

But at least one person wasn’t complaining.

Dan Thompson, a 2010 UF graduate who worked in football recruiting for three years as a student, said he first heard the chant in 2012 and in 2013.

“I was confused on where the chant came from and certainly, not only did I not like it,  I thought it was childish and immature.”

Also, said Thompson: “The UAA and the University of Florida have a responsibility to protect themselves and their image.”

Watkins says he is not sure if the song is gone permanently. However, he does not anticipate the band will be playing it anytime soon. There is currently no planned replacement for the song.

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In The News: Taliban fighters make Afghan Forces retreat; Wertheim donates $50 million to UF; Mitchell sentenced to prison after aiding escaped murderers

By on September 28th, 2015 | Last updated: September 28, 2015 at 5:28 pm
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Sep. 28, 2015: Afternoon News In 90

By on September 28th, 2015 | Last updated: September 28, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Alexis Geffin produced this update.

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University of Florida Libraries Awarded Grant, Digitizing Historic Newspapers

By on September 28th, 2015 | Last updated: September 28, 2015 at 3:25 pm

In late 1894 and early 1895, the Great Freeze swept across Florida all the way down to the Manatee River south of Tampa, freezing citrus to its trees and ultimately devastating the state’s economy.

Although this happened over a century ago,  the means still exists to flip through newspapers documenting events like the Great Freeze — not in a tangible, paper format, but online.

Earlier this month, the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries was awarded a $288,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund the digitization of historic newspapers. The grant, coupled with $325,000 Smathers received in 2013, adds up to the largest direct monetary award in the libraries’ history.

The grant allows the Smathers Libraries to digitize 110,000 pages of six Floridian and Puerto Rican newspapers as part of the Florida and Puerto Rico Digital Newspaper Project, a collaboration between UF and the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras.

The awarded money will specifically pay for UF and UPR personnel involved in the project, microfilm machines and external hard drives, vendors for the duplication and digitization services, monthly shipping of hard drives and travel for meetings and conferences.

The Florida and Puerto Rico Digital Newspaper Project, representing participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program, provides free online access to newspapers published from 1836 to 1922, such as the Pensacola Journal, which is now the Pensacola News Journal, the Ocala Banner, which is now the Ocala Star-Banner, and La Correspondencia.

“This NEH grant brings national attention to UF and our digital work, especially since it is funded with federal money,” said Melissa Espino, the project coordinator. “It also helps to bring attention specifically to the humanities at UF.”

UF and UPR already had an existing relationship, with UF holding various Puerto Rico governmental records and helping UPR digitize another newspaper, El Mundo. UF initially approached UPR to partner up to apply to the National Digital Newspaper Program.

The National Digital Newspaper Program, funded by NEH and managed by the Library of Congress, is working to create a national digital database of historically significant newspapers from all U.S. states and territories published between 1836 and 1922.

The digitized newspapers will be made available nationally through Chronicling America and locally through the Smathers Libraries’ Florida Digital Newspaper Library, as well as on UPR’s Biblioteca Digital Puertorriqueña.

The NEH grant supplements UF and UPR’s second phase of the project. In the first phase, the universities digitized 100,000 pages from nine Floridian newspapers and one Puerto Rican newspaper — 90 percent of which is available to view on Chronicling America.

Selected newspaper titles are broken up into monthly batches of about 7,500 pages each and digitized over the span of 14 months, said Espino. Once each group of pages is uploaded, it must pass a quality review check.

The digitization of each newspaper prevents the information from being potentially lost forever, as the microfilm the Smathers Libraries receives has aged over the years.

“There is also an important archival and preservation angle to the grant as well, since the digital files are more stable and more easily stored than microfilm,” said Patrick Reakes, the project’s principal investigator and member of the Smathers Libraries administration.

Storing these newspapers on an online database, Espino added, makes them more easily accessible to students, historians, journalists and the general public.

Jack E. Davis, Ph.D., a professor in UF’s Department of History and a historian focusing on environmental history, has tried to access Florida newspapers through the database for research purposes before. However, he’s always had trouble using the search engine and hopes that Smathers will set aside a portion of the NEH funding to make the database more user-friendly.

“Only then can I use these newspapers to the benefit of my students and my research,” Davis said.

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Spike in Newberry Water Bills Stirs Concern in Residents

By on September 28th, 2015 | Last updated: September 28, 2015 at 3:59 pm

Complaints from Newberry residents regarding unusually high water bills have poured in over the last few weeks.

The Facebook group “Citizens of Newberry Forum” became the venue for a discussion on the topic with over 40 comments.

Water is managed by the City of Newberry, which dispenses an average of 493,000 gallons of potable water per day and services about 1,675 customers, according to the city website.

Billy Dean, the building operations manager for Florida Farm Bureau, received a bill for 25,000 gallons of water. With a 12,000 gallon pool and an average additional usage of 3 to 4 thousand gallons, the 25,000 gallon bill didn’t make sense.

“I monitor the utility bill every month for a 238,000-square-foot building [Florida Farm Bureau] with 600 people. I know what a water usage is,” Dean said.

Newberry City Manager Mike New said that although the city has noticed an increase in concerns over the last two billing cycles, the amounts that have been billed aren’t out of the ordinary in comparison to previous years.

“We don’t see that our June billing for 2015 was significantly different from 2011-2014,” he said.

The city determined that in the June billing cycle, there were 40 complaints — three of which were actually found to have errors.

New said that often residents may have leaks that they are unaware of — even the slow “drip drip drip” of a sink can quickly add up.

Residents like Dean, however, still feel that there’s a problem.

According to Dean, the city tested his meter by running 100 gallons through it. After finding it was more than “the tolerance they allow,” they replaced it.

He also said he received a 7 percent credit for the error but is less concerned with money, and more with how many people seem to be affected.

Newberry City Commissioner Tim Marden sees the outpour of concerns as a result of citizens congregating on social media over everyday concerns.

“I think its more that people are making a mountain out of a mole hill,” he said.

Dean, however, feels otherwise.

“Something is going on,” Dean said. “Something is not right.”

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Gator Domino’s Ditches Drive-Thru Microphone, Goes Digital

By on September 28th, 2015 | Last updated: September 28, 2015 at 11:34 am

When customers pull up to the drive-through at the new Gator Domino’s on Archer Road next month, they won’t find a microphone.

But they won’t need one.

All they will need is a digital device – and to order their food in advance to pick up at the window. That’s because the new store will be all digital, and workers will no longer take orders at the drive-through.

If their food isn’t ready on time, the store also has a digital solution: Customers are invited to wait inside their cars in a designated area and track the status of their order on a large screen outside.

The digital drive-through is one of a number of features that the owner of Gator Domino’s, Freddie Wehbe, says makes it the first of its kind.

Besides the digital drive-through, the store will also feature dine-in seating, free Wi-Fi and charging stations, and a “pizza theater” where customers can watch their food being made.

“The initial concept, the theater concept, was born by our corporate team about a year ago,” said Wehbe, who has been in business in Gainesville for 25 years and who recently hosted a tour of the refurbished operation.

“We decided to take it to the next level and add some new things and now, it’s the first Domino’s in the world out of 12,000 locations to be all digital.”

When he says all digital, Wehbe means that all orders are completed on any of 12 different devices. Customers can increase the speed of their orders by ordering in advance via phone, iPad, smart watch, text message, tweet or mobile app.

Those who want to come in to order, can order from an iPad at the front of the store, he said. To use any of the digital methods, customers have to set up a profile beforehand. To set up the profile, customers enter their name, address and credit card information.

“We will take orders up front, but we’re going to try to prevent it,” he said. “Ordering digital takes less than 10 seconds.”

Wehbe said going digital makes sense.

Some 80 percent of orders to student areas now are coming through a digital device, he said. Through texting and tweeting, customers with a profile can simply send a pizza emoji to Domino’s, and the order will be received.

Geo Crume, supervisor, said digital drive-thru will be great for parents or for when it is raining.

“I know my wife on her way home would do the drive thru,” Crume, who has worked for Gator Domino’s for a year, said.

“When the kids are in the back you don’t want to have to lug them out of the car. So now we hand you a pizza and off you go. You can even order before you leave work, so it’s pretty cool.”

Outside the restaurant, there will be 40 seats and a picnic area, and inside, there will are 44 seats and a “pizza theater” lined with seats so customers can watch the chefs prepare their food.

Each seat comes equipped with USB ports, charging stations and a view of the multiple flat-screen televisions in the restaurant. Wehbe said he hopes the restaurant becomes a popular game day spot.

“We’re the official pizza of the Gators, so we’re gonna play all the games here,” he said. “If you have children and you want to come watch the game, I think it would be a good destination for you.”

There is an additional room inside that can be reserved for private meetings or study groups for free, or for birthday parties. To rent the room, customers simply call ahead.

“On the weekends when we do the birthdays, we’re going to allow the kids to come and make their own pizza,” he said. “We’ll give them a t-shirt and a chef hat. They have their own apron, they make their own pizza and enjoy the birthday in here.”

Wehbe said all the changes were for the consumers. He conducted focus groups with about 1,000 people and followed comments on social media to find out what changes were important.

“We listened, and we feel like there’s something for everyone at this store,” he said. “We think it’s the future, and we’re staying a step ahead.”

Professor Richard Lutz, an expert in consumer behavior, said consumers now move toward fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle.

“Basically, speed becomes one of the primary assets,” Lutz said. “So people are sacrificing taste and quality over speed of service at some level.”

He said Domino’s has been a leader in the digital area, something that more companies have recently gotten involved with.

“Obviously, mobile-friendly websites is one thing they’re adjusting to,” he said. “Anything moving in the digital direction is the way younger people are moving.”

Wehbe said consumers also asked for a restaurant that was environment-friendly. All of the equipment is energy-efficient, the paint is sustainable, the hand driers are automatic, the lights are on timers, and they recycle.

He said he even saved a 100-year-old tree outside the restaurant from being demolished and has instead turned it into a picnic area with Wi-Fi for customers.

“We’ve got little signs everywhere reminding people to only take what they need,” Crume said. “It’s a lot of things that a lot of people don’t take the time to do that are going to make a difference.”

The restaurant will be open seven days a

From left to right: Domino’s employees Geo Crume (far left) and Sawyer Cunningham (far right) make pizzas at the new pizza theatre store. The store on Archer is the first location to offer exclusively digital services.

From left to right: Domino’s employees Geo Crume (far left) and Sawyer Cunningham (far right) make pizzas at the new pizza theatre store. The store on Archer is the first location to offer exclusively digital services. Gabriella Nicholas/WUFT News

week from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.

“The store is going to be awesome,” Crume said. “Hopefully it’s going to be a cool place for people to come and get pizza and hang out. We expect it to hopefully be one of the busiest and best Domino’s in the country.”






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Sept. 28, 2015: Morning News In 90

By on September 28th, 2015 | Last updated: September 28, 2015 at 11:26 am

Sara Girard produced this update.

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In The News: Alachua County Purchases New Voting Machines; Marco Rubio To Make Campaign Stop In The Villages; Credit Cards With Chips Will Be Standard; U.N. General Assembly To Focus On Syria

By and on September 28th, 2015 | Last updated: September 28, 2015 at 10:09 am
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