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The top stories near you
• Tyson Hendrickson lives in Gainesville today and vividly remembers watching coverage of the 1983 Lebanon bombing that killed 241. He was worried his father was among the victims that day. (WUFT News)
• Two brothers from the Bowen family in Ocala gave everything to fight the Vietnam War: Hammett Jr. died at 21 after diving on a grenade to save some of his men and Keith many years later from Agent Orange exposure suffered during his time there in the Air Force. Those who knew both reflected on their lives during recent interviews. (WUFT News)
• Two sisters — Katalaya and Nevaeh Nunez — and their grandfather died Thursday in a car crash with an impaired driver. Students and teachers at Belleview-Santos Elementary School, where they attended, had a very tough Friday after receiving the news. The family members were on their way home from school when the crash happened. (Ocala Star-Banner)
• Marion County, home to an estimated 35,000 veterans, is seeking funding to build a veterans nursing home. (WUFT News)
• If you’ve only casually followed Alachua County’s effort to find a location for a new sports arena, our story brings you up to speed on the political and geographic issues the project has faced so far. The estimated cost is $30 to $50 million, to be paid with bed tax money. (WUFT News)
• Craig DeThomasis is the Eighth Judicial Circuit’s newest judge, and friends on Friday described him as a rock n’ roll loving, cowboy outfit wearing, Jerry Garcia admiring “dude.” (WUFT News)
• Prepare for colder temperatures midweek with this arctic front approaching. (Florida Storms)
• While its residents don’t have the highest average student loan totals, Gainesville did rank atop this list of hardest-hit cities for student debt. (CNBC)
• The Bradley family has raised more than $1 million so far to ensure Jennifer takes over the seat from her husband and incumbent Rob Bradley. (Florida Politics)
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Around the state today
• The struggle for Vietnam War veterans to share their stories is typified by Randy McConnell of Sarasota County, who finally began to open up in the mid-2000s. With seven Purple Hearts, he retells his part in the war “because I know this isn’t taught in school anymore.” (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
• “What better python removal agents than highly trained veterans?” A South Florida group known as the Swamp Apes has taken up that mission, helping battle the invasive species while letting veterans work through their post-traumatic stress disorder. (Miami Herald)
• The conclusion of a health care navigator who helps people sign up for plans: “So basically, the Affordable Care Act is working in Florida.” (NPR News)
• The Washington Post reports on the sad phenomenon of “ghost groves,” which citrus farmers have steadily abandoned over the past 15 years during the industry’s struggles.
• The Keys want $150 million of the $630 million in federal funding designated to help hurricane-damaged and flood-prone communities be more resilient. (WLRN)
• There’s also a nearly $400 million federal grant coming to help the timber industry recover from Hurricane Michael. (Florida Politics)
• State Sen. Dennis Baxley has returned with a proposal to create a guide that he says would help married couples stay married. (WFSU)
• “Although white sharks can elevate their body temperature, they are still sensitive to cold water,” and so a comparison to snowbirds is apparently apt. (Palm Beach Post)