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The top stories near you
• Gainesville officials are considering delaying the implementation of the plastic bag ban to better increase awareness with a public education campaign. The ban was originally targeted to start Aug. 1 and would restrict retail businesses, farmer markets, and restaurants from giving out Styrofoam drink and food containers, as well as single-use plastic bags, in an effort to protect the environment. The commission is now considering enforcing the ban on Jan. 1, 2020. The commission will discuss the issue at next week’s general policy meeting. (Gainesville Sun)
• The aunt of Montez Davis, the man killed in a shooting on Gainesville east side earlier this month, was among those who attended a meeting this week to hear how city leaders plan to make the Duval area safer for people who live there. (WUFT News)
• Coming to Celebration Pointe: an approximately 19,000-square-foot Dave & Buster’s that will open in 2020. Dave & Buster’s is a video arcade entertainment center that has games for adults and children and a sports-themed restaurant, which serves food and alcohol. It is small in comparison to its 40,000-square-feet locations in Chicago and New York. A week ago, Celebration Pointe also announced the addition of a Cheesecake Factory. (The Alligator, Gainesville Sun)
• U.S. Florida Rep. Francis Rooney offers an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965 that would get rid of “Free Speech Zones” on university campuses. Rooney uses the University of Cincinnati as an example, where the free speech zone comprised only 0.1 percent of the 137-acre campus and required up to 15 business days notice for students to use the space. The announcement comes just after President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, is expected to sign an executive order that would force universities to “support free speech” or face “very costly” penalties. (Orlando Weekly)
• Country singer Luke Bryan donated $8,000 to agriculture students at the University of Florida. Dana Edwards, the strategic communications manager of College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, says the money will be spent over two years. An undecided amount will be distributed to an undecided number of students. (The Alligator)
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Around the state today
• A Florida man, Caesar Sayoc, pleaded guilty Thursday to mailing bombs to some of Donald Trump’s critics, competitors, and news media organizations. Sayoc was accused of sending basic bombs — none of which detonated — to 16 targets, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, several members of Congress, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. Devices were also mailed to CNN offices in New York and Atlanta. He will be sentenced on in September and faces the possibility of life in prison. (AP)
• The University of Central Florida has a new president in Thad Seymour, and its former president will have a $600,000 settlement. (Orlando Sentinel)
• In a survey by the Trust for Public Land non-profit, Tampa, Florida, was found to be the fifth city with the most dog parks for every 100,000 residents. Counting the number of off-leash dog areas per 100,000 people, the trust ranked Boise, Idaho first, followed by Portland, Ore., Henderson Nev., Norfolk, Va. and Tampa and San Francisco together at No. 5. The trust’s 2019 survey found a total of 810 off-leash dog parks in the nation’s 100 biggest cities, a 42 percent increase over the last decade. (Tampa Bay Times)
• College educators gathered at Stetson University to advocate for higher education in prison. Inmates at the Tomoka Correctional Institution can take college credit courses through Stetson’s Community Education project, which is funded by a grant from the Laughing Gull Foundation. A panel discussion will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. tonight in the DuPont-Ball Library at Stetson University’s Deland Campus. (WMFE)
• The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola hopes it can save World War II relics by selling Navy aircraft parts. Sam Cox, director of the Navy’s History and Heritage Command, says he would like to revive the Navy’s Trade and Exchange Program, which hasn’t been used in almost 20 years. In this program, residents can take ownership of former Navy technology, with a promise of the assets being cared for. (Pensacola News Journal)
• A St. Petersburg barbecue and music festival, Ribfest, is ending this year. Organizers, the Northeast Exchange Club, announced the retirement news Thursday after nearly 30 years and more than $4.5 million raised for local charities. It’s a shocking announcement, considering the event still draws tens of thousands of fans to Vinoy Park each November to see artists like Foreigner, Zac Brown Band and Thomas Rhett. Hundreds of people volunteer each year, with the proceeds benefitting organizations like All Children’s Hospital or the Boy Scouts. (Tampa Bay Times)