The Point, Jan. 31, 2020: What You Should Know About Gainesville’s Plans For Self-Driving Buses


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• Self-driving buses will be a new (and futuristic) way to get around Gainesville that could be available by the end of the year. Three vehicles are undergoing test runs while most residents are sound asleep, and City Manager Lee Feldman said he believes Gainesville is the first city in the country to test its autonomous vehicles on open roads. (WUFT News)

The first graduating class of the State Contracted Electrical Program received honors yesterday at Florida State Prison. “From the outside, people think that time stands still in prison,” James Ingram, a 44-year-old student and graduate, told one of our reporters. “But, when we are in here, doing things and applying our time, things keep going. That way, when we leave, we are not too far behind.” (WUFT News)

• Alachua County voters won’t get to decide in this year’s general election whether the county commission should have single-member district representation. Despite public support, the Alachua County Charter Review Commission dismissed the proposal. “We need to have county commissioners who represent people in the area they are living in,” High Springs City Commissioner Nancy Lavin told the commission. (WUFT News)

• Although marijuana laws have changed in the state in recent years, the Gainesville Police Department’s drug-sniffing K-9s aren’t going anywhere. But according to Chief Inspector Jorge Campos, the K-9s don’t know the difference between marijuana and newly-legal hemp. A new “odor plus one” rule will require officers to look for other indicators. (WUFT News)

• Gilchrist County Journal: County Commission Approves Letter of Support for Nestle Water bottling plant in Gilchrist County. “Commissioner Kenrick Thomas told his fellow board members and those attending the Thursday meeting that he felt the County Commission should send a letter of support to the Suwannee River Water Management District to support the renewal of the permit by Seven Springs Water Company… ‘The water bottling plant employs a lot of people from Gilchrist County and the company pays a lot of taxes to this small rural county,’ Commissioner Sharon Langford explained.”

• Gainesville Sun ($): Braddy withdraws in D-3 race. “Ed Braddy, chairman of Alachua County’s Republican Party, announced Thursday that he is withdrawing from the congressional race to replace U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho. The former Gainesville mayor cited a stacked Republican candidate pool for Florida’s Third Congressional seat as the reason.”

• Ocala Star-Banner ($): Ocala Breeders’ Sales auction sells nearly $5 million in thoroughbreds. “Florida’s 2020 thoroughbred auction season kicked off this week with the Ocala Breeders’ Sales winter mixed sale posting nearly $5 million in horse sales… During the two-day sale, 359 horses sold for $4.95 million compared to 399 that sold for $4.59 million a year ago.”

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Around the state today

• From our Fresh Take Florida team: State Still Working Out Flaws With Firefighter Cancer Bill. Earlier this month, Brian Kernohan finished his final chemotherapy session. He is now the first firefighter in Jacksonville to receive job compensation for his treatment under a new Florida law declaring cancer as a line-of-duty illness and outlining its accompanying benefits. But, others around the state haven’t been so lucky. (WUFT News)

• Florida Politics: Senate budget proposes 3% pay raise for state workers. “The Senate’s proposed $92.8 billion budget, filed Thursday, includes a 3% pay raise for state workers, the first such raise in recent memory. Senate President Bill Galvano touted the proposed pay raise in a statement after the budget dropped.”

• WFSU: Lawmakers Call For Answers After Former FAMU Student Killed In Officer-Involved Shooting. “Twenty-two-year-old Jamee Johnson had plans to graduate this Spring from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University alongside his sister. But in December he was killed by police officers during a traffic stop in Jacksonville. His family is demanding more answers and some lawmakers joined that call at the Capitol Thursday.”

• Florida Keys News ($): State to send $38M to the Keys to fix its Hurricane Irma-damaged desalination plant and sewer systems. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state would send $38 million to the Florida Keys to replace infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Irma, which struck in 2017.”

• Bay News 9: Pasco County Explores Buying Out Hudson Homes Affected by Depressions. “Pasco County is looking into options that would allow it to offer buyouts to homeowners in the Hudson neighborhood affected by dozens of depressions that opened last summer. Emergency Management Operations Manager Monica Santiago said currently, that involves applying for two FEMA grants that would allow the county to purchase some of the impacted homes for 75 percent of their total value.”

• AP: Florida plans to try to identify potential mass shooters. “Florida law enforcement officers will be trained to spot potential mass shooters before they act under a program rolling out this summer. Under the program, Florida will be the first state in the nation to have a statewide plan for identifying threats and taking action to intervene.”

• Naples Daily News ($): ‘It’s unbelievable.’ $396.9 million Powerball ticket sold in Bonita Springs. “A 7-Eleven near the beaches of Bonita Springs has a claim to fame — selling a winning Powerball ticket worth $396.9 million… One lucky person bought the winning ticket at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday night, just a few hours before the drawing, at the 7-Eleven store on Bonita Beach Road.”

• WJCT: Visit Jacksonville Wants To Attract More Sporting Events with Extra Funding. “City leaders are trying to make Jacksonville one of the top destinations for sporting events. A $350,000 bump in additional funding for Visit Jacksonville will go toward sports recruitment initiatives might help lure additional events.”

From NPR News

• World: WHO Declares Coronavirus Outbreak A Global Health Emergency

• World: House Votes ‘No War Against Iran,’ In Rebuke To Trump

• National: FICO Is About To Change Credit Scores. Here’s Why It Matters

• Politics: A Final Day Of Questions In The Impeachment Trial, Ahead Of A Vote On Witnesses

• Politics: The State Of The State Department

• Health: First U.S. Case Person-To-Person Transmission Of Coronavirus Announced

• Science: A New Form Of Northern Lights Discovered In Finland – By Amateur Sky Watchers

• Books: ‘Black Wave’ Author Chronicles Cultural, Religious Upheaval In The Middle East

About Kristen Altus

Kristen is a web editor and reporter for WUFT News. She can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing Follow her on social media @kristenaltus.

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