The top stories near you
• Just as yesterday’s afternoon rush hour began, two tractor-trailers, a sedan, and passenger van were involved in a crash on I-75 southbound between Gainesville and Alachua. Florida Highway Patrol reports seven deaths, making it one of the deadliest crashes in the region since the January 2012 I-75 pileup on Paynes Praire. More than 12 hours later, only one southbound lane has reopened. (WGFL, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office)
• There’s a mess in Ocala near the Florida State Fire College, one reportedly exacerbated by the state’s delay in notifying people living nearby about contaminated well water. State officials pushed back on that claim after the Miami Herald’s report.
• The years 2015, 2016, and 2017 brought the most reported sexual assaults on the University of Florida campus during the past decade. One of our reporters attended a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) session to see how students are learning to fight back. (WUFT News)
• Gainesville’s ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam is a step closer to passage. (Gainesville Sun)
• Here’s the heartwarming story of Hank, a stray cat who showed up at Gainesville’s Child Advocacy Center and found a home and purpose.
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Around the state today
• Gov. Rick Scott is still the governor and won’t be sworn into the U.S. Senate until Tuesday when Ron DeSantis takes his own oath of office. (AP)
• State Sen. Joe Gruters is on a roll in filing bills this week, with one hoping to ban smoking on public beaches and another pair tackling wastewater spills and septic tank inspections. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, WJCT)
• The Sun Sentinel provides an update on the status of 15 recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission that would improve school safety.
• Boat strikes killed 121 manatees in 2018, a record high for Florida. (Orlando Weekly)
• The Florida Phoenix details all the ways in which this state is a dangerous place for bicyclists.
• Shutdown notwithstanding, non-profit organizations and regular people alike are helping to pick up litter in some of Florida’s national parks. (Miami Herald)
• Tax collectors should not be armed in Florida as part of their jobs, the state attorney general’s office had to announce in a seemingly obvious legal opinion. (Florida Politics)
• Small private islands surround the most expensive home now on the market in Tampa Bay. If you have $18 million, this appears to be a gem. (Tampa Bay Times)