The top stories near you
• Our documentary, “Every Vote Counts,” takes a look back on all the problems from the 2018 election and considers the things that would have to change to keep the 2020 presidential election from turning out the same way.
• In April, the Gainesville Police Department paired an officer with a mental health clinician to respond to calls involving people with mental health issues. The pair answered more than 400 calls through November and diverted over 90 percent of the people involved from jail, saving an estimated $220,270 in taxpayer money. (Gainesville Sun)
• The former Munroe Regional Medical Center has a new name for the second time in four months. The hospital, owned by Adventist Health System, is now AdventHealth Ocala. (Ocala Star-Banner)
• Scientists are saying that a warming climate is the reason north central Florida saw a rainier-than-normal year in 2018, with the rainy season beginning a month early and continued downpours through December. (Gainesville Sun)
• The Endangered Species Act recently celebrated its 45th anniversary. Here is a brief look at some of the animals that have benefited. (Villages Daily Sun)
Today’s sponsored message
There’s no denying the importance of a good education.
Millhopper Montessori is one of only two area private schools accredited by FCIS, due in part to our highly-credentialed teachers and STEAM-enhanced curriculum. Millhopper’s unique methods allow each preschool through middle school student to explore and learn, all in a safe and secure environment. Millhopper students develop into poised, compassionate and creative leaders who are prepared for the next level. Call 352-375-6773 or visit millhopper.com today to schedule your tour.
Around the state today
• The latest report on the Parkland shooting points to “personal and system failures” as the reason for the scope of the massacre. Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature now have to decide what action to take. (Pensacola News Journal, Miami Herald)
• Florida’s leading medical marijuana distributor will soon offer edibles among other new products to patients. But pro-marijuana politicians are having trouble finding banks that will support “cannabis-related business.” (Florida Politics, Florida Phoenix)
• The state Office of Insurance Regulation website estimates the insured losses from Hurricane Michael are more than $4.65 billion. (Pensacola News Journal)
• Tampa Bay has one of the country’s largest deaf and hard-of-hearing populations, and the new Text-to-911 service being implemented is just one of many services the community needs. (Tampa Bay Times)
• This video of a St. Petersburg man grabbing a McDonald’s employee went viral yesterday, and it all started because of the city’s policy on plastic straws. (Buzzfeed News)
• Mosquitoes transmitted 13 cases of West Nile virus last year, and the insects are already re-emerging in the unusually warm weather. (Florida Times-Union)
• Katharine the great white shark has spent the past month in Florida’s waters. The 14-foot shark has traveled nearly 40,000 miles in the last three months. (Florida Today)
• Smoking on Florida’s public beaches may come to an end if a new proposal filed by state Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, passes. (Fort Myers News-Press)