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The top stories near you
• WUFT News: Gravesites, Churches and Cantaloupe: Pinesville’s History Vital to Florida’s Fabric. “Pinesville is the kind of place, as Gerie Crawford and Michelle Rutledge tell it, in small-town USA where gravesites are among its primary historical landmarks. It’s an unincorporated area comprised of about 230 homes near Archer Road and U.S. Route 41 and roughly between Archer and Jonesville in western Alachua County. … Rutledge and Crawford told Pinesville’s story during a virtual conference hosted Wednesday by Tuskegee University in Alabama. The annual history research symposium was titled ‘Insecure: Black Life, Resilience & Joy in the Age of Uncertainty.’ Their talk was part of a session called “From Inclusion to Equality: Recovery, Technology and a Black Farming Community.”
• WUFT News: Gainesville City Commissioners Opt Against Allowing Women To Be Topless In Public. “The Gainesville City Commission in its General Policy Committee meeting voted against exploring the legal ramifications of removing gender from public nudity laws.”
• WUFT News: Newberry’s Mayor Wants To Help Develop Four-City Wastewater Treatment Facility. “Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said Newberry, High Springs, Archer and Trenton are near or at their wastewater capacity. Marlowe on Thursday presented at the High Springs City Commission meeting a concept for one large wastewater facility. The High Springs City Commission unanimously favored continuing discussions of the wastewater facility concept.”
• CBS4: Alachua County Public Schools investigation recommends firing Archer Principal. “(The school district’s) internal investigation into Archer Elementary Principal Stella Arduser began in early December 2020, and it concludes with a recommendation that Ms. Arduser should be fired.”
• Ocala Star-Banner ($): Trials will resume in March at Ocala courthouse. “Marion County has been given the green light to resume grand jury proceedings and jury trials. The order came Wednesday from 5th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. He said Lake, Hernando and Marion counties can reinstate jury and grand jury proceedings. The circuit’s two other counties, Citrus and Sumter, remain on hold.”
• WUFT News: From Jordan To Gainesville: Middle Eastern Embroidery Makes An Entrance. “Gainesville City Commissioner Reina Saco is reserving her newest face mask for a special occasion — her next appearance in City Hall. Its green, gold and light red hues geometrically intertwine, creating an intricate reminder of the hands behind its creation: women living in Jerash refugee camp in Jordan. The mask is one of 50 carefully woven, embroidered and shipped from the camp more than 6,000 miles away to The How Bazar, a vintage store located on University Avenue. The special shipment came from a partnership with Sitti Soap, an organization that helps refugee women sell their products.”
• The Alligator: Newly finished Fire Station construction could reduce homeowner’s insurance. “Homeowners within 5 miles of Fire Station 25 can receive lower insurance rates and an advanced life support response following renovations at the station. Alachua County Fire Rescue recently finished construction on the garage housing the fire engine at the station located at 12825 NW US Highway 441.”
• WMFE: Marion County Public Schools Urges DeSantis To Prioritize School Workers For Vaccination. “The letter asks that all school employees be classified as essential workers as far as vaccines are concerned, with a priority for those with direct student contact, like teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria staff. Marion County is not the first to press this issue. Florida educators have been pleading with the governor for several weeks now.”
• WUFT News: Pandemic Forces Gainesville Businesses To Change Valentine’s Day Plans. “For those Gainesville businesses for which the day of cards, flowers, chocolates, jewelry, dinner dates and lingerie is the second most profitable of the year, after Mother’s Day, it remains to be seen whether customers will leave them heartbroken because of the pandemic.”
• News4Jax: FDLE releases findings of investigation into Crescent City Police Department. “Back in December, the entire department was placed on administrative leave, and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office took over. According to the FDLE audit, three of the five officers on the Police Department’s force either needed to be retrained and certified in some areas of their jobs or their certifications need to be updated. It also revealed none of the officers had training for the use of Tasers.”
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Around the state today
• NPR News: Florida Officials Say They’d Fight Any Potential Domestic Travel Restrictions. “‘It would be unconstitutional. It would be unwise and it would be unjust,’ Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday at a vaccination site in Port Charlotte, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The Republican governor’s remarks came after media reports saying federal officials are weighing travel restrictions, including Florida, aimed at slowing the spread of the highly contagious variant first identified in the U.K.”
• Miami Herald ($): State GOP warns districts they could lose millions next year if students don’t show up. “Because of the pandemic, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran signed an executive order last year allowing all 75 school districts to keep about $700 million in state funds ‘over and above what would otherwise be permitted under law,’ state Rep. Chris Sprowls, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, wrote in a letter to all the districts’ superintendents Thursday.”
• Florida Politics: Chris Sprowls encourages schools to find, re-enroll missing school children. “According to an October survey cited by Sprowls, full-time student membership has decreased by more than 87,000 students statewide. That number translates to more than 3% of Florida’s student population, Sprowls said.”
• Fresh Take Florida: Florida Wrestles With Surrendered Newborns: Bill Would Standardize ‘Baby Boxes,’ Give Mothers 30 Days To Give Away Infants Without Penalty. “A new bill moving through the Capitol would significantly change state laws about surrendering newborns. It is already provoking emotionally charged debates in Tallahassee, where Republicans in recent years have tightened abortion restrictions and wrestled with the maternal rights of mothers behind bars.”
• Orlando Sentinel ($): Walmart mistakenly offered COVID-19 vaccine to medically vulnerable Floridians under 65. “In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has said only seniors and front-line healthcare workers can be inoculated so far and wanted hospitals to take the lead on vaccinating other highly vulnerable populations.”
• WFSU: Lower Vaccination Rates Among Hispanics Tied To Fear, Mistrust. “The Kaiser Family Foundation’s COVID-19 dashboard shows about 15 percent of Florida’s vaccines have been administered to Hispanic residents, even though they make up more than a quarter of the state’s population, 37 percent of COVID-19 cases and a quarter of coronavirus deaths in the state.”
• Florida Politics: Rick Scott: The ‘videos were horrible,’ but Trump impeachment trial is a ‘charade.’ “To convict Trump, 17 Republicans will have to vote to do so. Scott doesn’t think the numbers are even close.”
• Associated Press: Jobless claims in Florida dropped precipitously last week. “New jobless claims in Florida last week dropped almost 75% after rising significantly in the two previous weeks, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.”
• Space Coast Daily: SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch from Cape Canaveral Pushed Back to Saturday Night. “SpaceX is scheduled to launch another batch of satellites for the Starlink broadband network aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday, Feb. 13, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.”
• WFTS-Tampa Bay: No man’s land: Why some of Tampa’s most iconic restaurants are still closed at Tampa International Airport. “Only paid passengers flying in or out of Tampa International Airport can eat inside the airport terminals. And, that is putting restaurants inside airside terminals in a tough spot. Some restaurants reopened, while others are still waiting for travelers to come back.”
• News Service of Florida: Blueberry ruling gives Nikki Fried the blues. “Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried expressed disappointment Thursday that the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled blueberries are not being imported in large enough numbers to harm the domestic industry.”
From NPR News
• Health: Biden Announces Deal For 200 Million More COVID-19 Vaccines
• Politics: Watch Live: Second Trump Impeachment Trial Proceeds In The Senate
• Politics: Senators Moved By Actions Of Capitol Police Officer Goodman To Protect Them
• World: 2nd Person Dies Of Ebola In Congo, Marking Virus’s Return
• World: Germany’s Merkel Warns Coronavirus Variants Could ‘Destroy’ Gains Against Pandemic
• National: Federal Budget Deficit Expected To Hit Second Largest Since World War II
• Business: Clubhouse May Be Social Media’s Future. What’s All The Hype About?
• Business: Instagram Bars Robert F. Kennedy Jr. For Spreading Vaccine Misinformation
• Books: What Can We Do Next To Change Nature — In Order To Save It?
About today’s curator
I’m Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today’s edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to email@example.com.