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Today’s top stories
• It was a year ago this week that husband and father Paul Williams was charged with the murders of his wife, Leslie Williams, and teenage daughter, Paige Willaims. Alachua County Sheriff’s Office deputies say he confessed to their murders, though his case has moved slowly these past 12 months in circuit criminal court. Now, the justice system is trying to determine if Paul even understands the allegations against him. He will undergo a mental health evaluation to determine whether or not he is competent to stand trial. (WUFT News)
• Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday proposed a $91.4 billion state budget for next year, touting plans to raise minimum teacher salary pay to $47,500 and continue “momentum” on environmental issues. As part of his budget announcement, he also said he wants to put more money toward alleviating worker shortages in Florida’s prison facilities. He intends to boost the Florida Department of Corrections’ current annual budget by $114 million to create 380 new positions, the largest increase for a state agency proposed by DeSantis for the upcoming fiscal year. (News Service of Florida)
• The Gainesville-area African American Accountability Alliance (or the 4A’s) brought together city and county leaders last night for a discussion about the proposed new sports arena, a possible community events center and more that could impact East Gainesville development. (WUFT News)
• A Florida panther was humanely euthanized after being affected by a mysterious neurological condition that impacts an animal’s ability to control their hind legs, leaving her panther kittens orphaned. The panther mother was the second confirmed case of the disorder, but footage from trail cameras suggests more of Florida’s panthers may be impacted. (WMFE)
• Kyle Smith, an employee at GROW Hub, a program in Gainesville that teaches people with disabilities vocational skills through art and agriculture, shows persistence in his art. His is a prime example of one of GROW Hub’s goals: convincing the community people with disabilities can be a valuable part of the workforce. (WUFT News)
• A team of 14 students at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland is working on developing a planetary rover that could explore Mars and collect samples. The students are working on the rover for the Florida Space Institute as part of Florida Polytechnic’s yearlong capstone design program. (Florida Politics)
• The state would like to see the Alachua County School District remove the principal of Idylwild Elementary School due to its two consecutive “D” grades. (Gainesville Sun)
• The first-ever Ebola vaccine is now closer to licensing, thanks to the help of two University of Florida researchers who worked with the World Health Organization and researchers around the world to develop and test the vaccine. (WUFT News)
• 17-year-old Jordan Peloubet of Tampa raised $115,000 to build a proper soccer field in his home village of Arusha, Tanzania. Jordan received the 2019 Youth in Philanthropy award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Suncoast chapter at a ceremony last week. The event recognized incredible philanthropic efforts and contributions to the community. “My biggest point is that age is just a number,” Jordan said. “If you have an idea, if you have a passion or a dream, you can pursue it.” (WTSP)
• President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is reaching out to Florida’s black voters with advertisements in African-American community newspapers and radio stations, which highlight Trump’s record for the black community. The ads focus on Trump’s claims of the lowest ever African-American unemployment rate, the creation of opportunity zones, and commitments to criminal justice reform and investments in HBCU schools. (Florida Politics)
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