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The top stories near you
• A 24-year-old laborer was buried alive for 28 harrowing minutes at a Gainesville construction site earlier this year before he was saved during a chaotic, heroic rescue effort by firefighters. Now, interviews and government records about the case provide significant new details about the nightmarish accident. (WUFT News)
• Alachua County voters could see a question about a full cent surtax on next year’s ballot. It was a topic of discussion last night between county and Gainesville city leaders, along with the U.S. Army Reserve’s plans for the old county fairgrounds site and a renewed disagreement over Celebration Pointe as sports arena site. (WUFT News)
• Gainesville Fire Rescue hung four wreaths at fire stations around Gainesville in an effort to draw attention to the increased fire hazards during the holiday season. Each time there is a fire this month, a green bulb on one of the wreaths will be replaced with a red one. (Gainesville Sun)
• Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday named Coral Gables securities lawyer Russell Weigel to become Florida’s third top financial regulator in less than two years. A Gainesville banker had also been a finalist for the job. Weigel will take the place of former Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Ronald Rubin, who was fired in July after allegations of sexual harassment. (News Service of Florida)
• Due to shrinking enrollment, College of Central Florida President Jim Henningsen announced the school will get rid of three of five sports teams in order to save $600,000 a year. While baseball and softball will still be offered, the men’s and women’s basketball programs, as well as women’s volleyball, will be cut. (Ocala Star-Banner)
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Around the state today
• Some of the money for the governor’s $602 million plan to raise teacher pay would come from the elimination of the Best and Brightest teacher bonus program. (News Service of Florida)
• Although Hurricane Dorian didn’t wreak havoc in South Florida as expected, small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the storm could be eligible for low-interest, long-term government loans up to $2 million through a disaster declaration that includes Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. (Sun Sentinel)
• With an average statewide price of $2.43 a gallon, Florida has the 17th lowest gas prices in the country, and they’re expected to drop even lower this month. (Florida Politics)
• Two decades and $4 billion into the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, new data about the pace of climate change have called into question how much of the Everglades can actually be salvaged. “I tend to think that everything can be saved,” says Fred Sklar of the South Florida Water Management District, which monitors and runs much of the Everglades’ infrastructure. “Restored is another question.” (Sun Sentinel)
• Ten Jacksonville children have a dare for President Donald Trump: Go vegan for the month of January, and Million Dollar Vegan, a nonprofit advocacy group, will donate $1 million to the veterans’ charity of Trump’s choice. (Florida Times-Union)