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• WUFT News: ‘A Long Time Coming’: Micanopy House of Prayer Leader Sentenced to 30 Years. “Joy Fluker says what happened to her adopted baby brother in the late 1980s haunts her. Anna Young, 79, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday for confining the toddler, Emon Harper, to a closet – without food or water – until he was found dead in a straw hamper by Fluker and other members of what authorities called a religious cult led by Young in Micanopy.”
• WUFT News: Ocala Proposes Amendment To City Ordinance Following Decision In Homelessness Lawsuit. “U.S. District Court Judge James S. Moody on Feb. 8 ruled that the city’s open lodging ordinance unlawfully punishes individuals on the basis of their homeless status. The case, McArdle vs. City of Ocala, was filed on behalf of Patrick McArdle, Courtney Ramsey and Anthony Cummings, three individuals experiencing homelessness in Ocala.”
• WUFT News: Amy Williams Is A UF Geology Professor During The Day, NASA Scientist By Night. “Amy Williams was hired by the University of Florida last year as a geology professor, but of note this week is her work as a participating scientist on the Perseverance mission set to land on Mars on Thursday.”
• WUFT News: Turkey Creek Preserve Opens After A Decade, Providing Parking Unlike Nearby Four Creeks Preserve. “Bordering San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, west of Northwest 59th Terrace and north of Northwest 93rd Avenue, the preserve harbors almost a mile of Turkey Creek’s waters, which ripple into the Floridan aquifer.”
• WCJB: Marion County Public Schools in desperate need of school bus drivers. “The school district has partnered with CareerSource Citrus-Levy-Marion to get qualified drivers behind the wheel.”
• WUFT News: High-Risk Veterans Under 65 Qualify For COVID-19 Vaccine. “Veterans under 65 with obesity, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sickle cell disease, kidney disease, smoking cancer and heart disease now qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a press release the system issued on Wednesday.”
• Gainesville Sun ($): UF police issue alert about oddly behaved man. “A man wanted by Florida State University police for inappropriately touching a woman has been spotted near the University of Florida, prompting UF police to issue a warning.”
• FloridaGators.com: Keyontae: ‘I’m blessed to be here.’ “Florida basketball star Keyontae Johnson spoke to FloridaGators.com in his first interview since his haunting collapse Dec. 12 at Florida State.”
• WUFT News: Gainesville Great Invader Raider Rally Makes COVID Adjustments. “For the first time in 21 years, Gainesville residents will be asked this holiday weekend to be invader raiders in their own backyards and neighborhoods instead of nature parks. The annual Great Invader Raider Rally, typically held on a Saturday in January, will be held Friday through Monday in a socially distanced format because of the coronavirus pandemic.”
• Spotlight on Levy County Government: County Gives Nod to First Commercial Solar Farm. “A 715-acre solar farm near Chiefland was unanimously approved by the Levy County Commission Tuesday.”
• Orlando Weekly: Weeki Wachee restaurant goes viral with ‘face diapers not required’ proclamation and signage. “Despite Florida outpacing the nation for a new, highly contagious coronavirus variant, a restaurant near Weeki Wachee Springs wants guests to know that face masks aren’t required.”
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Around the state today
• WTSP-Tampa Bay: ‘The decline is real’: Here are the 4 reasons COVID-19 cases could be dropping so quickly in Florida. “Social measures like masks and social distancing could be the key. … If you take a look at the Sunshine State, nearly 30% of the population has been infected. Another 10% already got a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That means at least 40% of Florida’s population has built an immunity to the virus.”
• Bradenton Herald ($): More COVID vaccine coming to Manatee. Only residents of these two zip codes can get it. “Residents of Lakewood Ranch and other well-off neighborhoods in East Manatee will have special access to COVID-19 vaccines, after Gov. Ron DeSantis reached out to Lakewood Ranch’s developer and offered to set up an exclusive vaccination site, according to Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh.”
• NPR News: Florida Governor Accused Of ‘Playing Politics’ With COVID-19 Vaccine. “Democrats are criticizing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who they claim is allowing politics to play a role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. DeSantis became testy when questioned by reporters at a vaccination event near Lakewood Ranch, an upscale community on Florida’s Gulf Coast.”
• WFSU: Elections Supervisors Voice Support For Allowing ‘Super Voting’ Sites Statewide. “Two bills recently filed in the state legislature — SB 774 and SB 635 — seek to give every local elections supervisor the option to operate countywide polling sites on Election Day, instead of restricting voters to designated precinct sites.”
• WFSU: Florida Could Add Another Color To Its Amber And Silver Alert Systems. A Purple Alert Would Help Find Missing Adults With Developmental Disabilities. “The Purple Alert would be used for adults with certain conditions like brain injuries or autism. Rep. Joseph Casello (D-Boynton Beach) says the Purple Alert could help families.”
• News Service of Florida: Scholarships sought for Ocoee Massacre descendants. “A state senator is seeking to expand a scholarship program set up more than 25 years ago because of a massacre in Rosewood to include people whose families were directly affected by the racially motivated 1920 Ocoee Election Day riot in Central Florida.”
• Florida Politics: Rush Limbaugh remembered: Florida Republicans mourn fallen conservative voice. “Radio host Rush Limbaugh died on Ash Wednesday of lung cancer, and Florida Republicans mourned the loss of a giant in his field, one who revolutionized talk radio and conservative politics.”
• Bay News 9: Sheriff: Pinellas Deputy Struck and Killed by Fleeing (Suspected) Drunk Driver. “A deputy is dead following a chaotic series of events that ended with a horrific crash Wednesday afternoon in Pinellas County.”
• Space Coast Daily: Brevard Commissioner John Tobia Proposes Policy That Would Force First Responders To Take COVID-19 Vaccine. “Tobia said that 66 percent of those employees who responded to a Brevard fire union survey said they would not take the vaccine.”
• ActionNewsJax: Tim Tebow retiring from professional baseball. “Tim Tebow announced Wednesday night that he is stepping back from his baseball career with the New York Mets.”
• First Coast News: Mother of dead right whale calf found in St. Augustine also suffering injuries, propeller cuts. “A 54-foot sportfishing vessel captain reported hitting a whale near the entrance to St. Augustine Inlet Friday evening, according to the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.”
From NPR News
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.