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The top stories near you
• University of Florida President Kent Fuchs encouraged researchers to continue their work through the government shutdown at a Faculty Senate meeting on Thursday. Fuchs said professors who sought federal funding before the shutdown began should still attempt their research as well.
• Gainesville restaurants, like MidiCi and Taziki’s Meditteranean Cafe, are offering free meals for furloughed government workers. The government shutdown began Dec. 22 and is now the longest in history. (The Alligator)
• Alachua County’s Teacher of the Year is Laura Wykoff, who works at Fort Clarke Middle School. (Gainesville Sun)
• In the cold weather, local farmers are doing everything they can to protect their crops from freezing. By dousing the fruit in water or covering them with sheets, farmers can try to shield their crops from the cold. (WUFT News)
• The Gainesville City Commission voted 5-1 to end the use of inmate labor for city government projects. In 30 days, inmate labor will be gone from Gainesville, though you may still see them working on state roads maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation. The city had been preparing to end the contracts in October, but the commission’s vote accelerates the process. (WUFT News)
• Using 2,537 flags to represent the number of abortions in America each day, anti-abortion activists held a protest in UF’s Plaza of the Americas. UF’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom claimed responsibility for the protest, stating the data came from the Young America’s Foundation, though it is not apparent how the club received that information. This is not the first time this club has held an anti-abortion protest. The first was in spring 2018 using toothpicks. (The Alligator)
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Around the state today
• Florida’s top election official, Michael Ertel, quickly resigned from office after pictures emerged where Ertel uses blackface to pose as a Hurricane Katrina victim. The pictures obtained by The Tallahassee Democrat show Ertel at a Halloween party 14 years ago where he sported blackface as his costume. (AP)
• In a small Methodist church, mourners gathered to remember loved ones lost in a shooting at a SunTrust Bank in Sebring, on Thursday. Just one day prior, five people were killed, including Marisol Lopez whose friends and family gathered to remember the SunTrust employee’s endearing actions: choir singing and Sunday school teaching. (Florida Today)
• Following the deadly shooting in a SunTrust Bank, Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund is citing a new law in which officials can reject to announce the names of crime victims. Marsy’s Law took effect on January 8 as part of Amendment 6 — broadening the rights of crime victims — and has prevented the disclosure of all but two victims’ names. (Highland News-Sun)
• After misspending $38 million on a new building, University of Central Florida President Dale Whittaker and former Chief Financial Officer Bill Merck have lost two years of their bonuses. Each would lose over $100,000 in bonus pay. (Orlando Sentinel)