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The top stories near you
• Concerns about rental affordability notwithstanding, a new apartment complex received a special use permit approval from Gainesville’s City Plan Board last night. That allows the redevelopment of The Swamp Restaurant site to proceed. (WUFT News)
• A stretch of U.S. 441 through Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park has become a popular roadside fishing spot following Hurricane Irma. It’s not the safest place to fish, with cars often speeding past at 60 mph or more, so Alachua County is seeking funding sources for a $3 million linear park that would be separated from the road. (WUFT News)
• A jury in Ocala chose life in prison over the death penalty for a man convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. (Ocala Star-Banner)
• The recent ransomware attack in Lake City and two other Florida cities should have local governments everywhere backing up their data, according to a criminal justice professor at Michigan State University. (AP)
• The Palm Beach Post has a column about the literary and historical importance of Cross Creek, which author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings helped make famous.
• “Rainbow Springs is a beauty, created beneath deep waters, made only by the hands of God.” An audio recording exists in state archives from one of the 1950s tour guides at Rainbow Springs, once a Florida attraction known for its “scenic submarines” that weren’t really submarines. (Florida Memory Blog)
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Around the state today
• The past three years’ hurricanes led to a greater focus on the need for underground utility lines in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis made law a bill that allows utility companies to charge customers for storm-protection projects like the buried lines. Proponents say it will save everyone money in the long term. (News Service of Florida)
• The Sun Sentinel analyzed seat belt citations to gauge whether Florida’s new texting and driving law might lead to more racial profiling. Some cities had a discrepancy between the percentage of black residents of the city’s total population compared to the percentage of seat belt tickets given to black people in that city. Among the cities with the worst discrepancies? Gainesville.
• New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was one of 20 Democratic presidential contenders to visit Florida this week and became the only one to make a gaffe quite this foolish. (Florida Politics)
• Gainesville isn’t the only Florida city studying a possible municipal broadband network. Lakeland is also doing so. (Lakeland Ledger)
• Can bacteria actually help clean some of Jacksonville’s water bodies? The city intends to find out. (WJCT)
• University of Florida alumnus and journalist Rob Hiaasen was killed a year ago today in a shooting at a newsroom in Maryland. Some of his columns are now being published in a book. (Palm Beach Post)
• The governor is no fan of the Tampa Bay Rays playing half their games in Canada and half in Florida: “I mean Montreal? I don’t understand that.” (WUSF)