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The top stories near you
• On the same day on which University of Central Florida’s Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of President Dale Whittaker, the Gainesville Sun broke the news that the University of Florida is launching its own investigation after a whistleblower complained of misuse of more than $3 million. The money, meant for the housing fund, was used to construct a $1.8 million dollar Center for Outdoor and Recreation Education and clear 3 acres of trees for Greek housing lots at a cost of $1.3 million. The anonymous emailer blames Norbert Dunkel, then-UF associate vice president of auxiliary services, and Nancy Chrystal-Green, then-director of student activities and involvement.
• With the Florida state Senate president’s recent announcement of a desire to expand the highway in central Florida, the Alachua County and Marion County city commissions express their worry about the future plans. The Coastal Connector project, already rejected by the commissions due to constituents’ worries of environmental damage, would have taken Suncoast Parkway north toward Jacksonville and right through this area. (Ocala Star-Banner)
• With the failure of GNV Rise to gain any public support at the end of 2018, Gainesville city commissioners are restarting discussions about affordable housing. The first workshop on the topic of 2019 took place this week. (WUFT News)
• There have been power lines running overhead at an East Gainesville city park for decades. Now, the city is putting hundreds of thousands of dollars in half-cent sales tax revenue into moving it to three adjacent acres on Northeast 31st Avenue. It will be called Unity Park. (WUFT News)
• The Alachua County Library won a $10,000 grant to carry out an important public service: Teach English to adults and others in this area who can’t yet speak it. Our story about the grant also includes a map of the organizations in our region who also offer such a service. (WUFT News)
• Gainesville Downtown previews the newest exhibit at the Hippodrome Gallery, featuring Ameena Khan’s work that breaks down stereotypes about Muslim women.
• A correction regarding yesterday’s newsletter: Our headline and summary item related to the state’s ban on chumming for shore-based shark fishing left out the word “chumming.” Fishing for sharks from shore in Florida remains legal, but not with the use of chumming. We apologize for any confusion stemming from this error.
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Around the state today
• With greyhound tracks newly illegal, some enterprises are ending before the Dec. 31, 2020 deadline. Florida has 11 tracks, leading to retirement for between 3,000 and 6,000 dogs. Local greyhound rescues have already begun preparing for the influx of occupants. President of God’s Greyts Greyhound Group Carol Becker worries the tracks will wait until the deadline to end, retiring the dogs all at once. Becker’s group helps to adopt and foster greyhounds. (WMFE)
• A Florida bill could soon outlaw all sunscreen that contains oxybenzone and octinoxate — two chemicals that kill coral reefs. The Florida Keys and Hawaii have already passed legislation to restrict public use in the area. Florida has the largest coral reef system in North America, the third largest in the world. However, coral disease has been reported from the south side of St. Lucie inlet to the north of the Lower Keys. (TCPalm)
• A Honduran woman was granted an extended stay of one year due to a rare blood disorder. Reina Gomez Ramirez suffers from thrombocytopenia, which she proved cannot be treated in Honduras. She will return to her Little Havana home hopeful as returning her to Honduras would be “condemning her to death.” (Miami Herald)
• Jacksonville city officials hired a Chicago-based non-profit in the hopes of curing an uptick in its murder rate. The city has paid Cure Violence $7,500 to assess the city and how the program could work in Jacksonville. Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson heard its presentation on Thursday. Marcus McAllistar, director of training, describes his companies approach as “the same way you would treat an epidemic.” (WJCT)