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The top stories near you
• WUFT News: As COVID-19 Cases Decrease In Alachua County, Vaccination Rates Climb. “Over the past two weeks, new coronavirus infections in Alachua County steadily declined, reaching lows not seen since the summer. According to Florida Department of Health data, 247 Alachua County residents tested positive for COVID-19 on January 7. On March 7, just 14 residents tested positive — a milestone for a county that’s lost at least 242 people to COVID-19.”
• WUFT News: Salary Raises Coming For Alachua County Educators. “Every March, salary and contract negotiations for the upcoming school year begin in Alachua County. Demands are made, salaries are deliberated upon and exact language is ironed out. This year’s changes have now been finalized, and they’ll see newer teachers making an unprecedented jump in salary.”
• News Service of Florida: Controversial Bright Futures revamp put on hold. “Sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, the bill (SB 86) would require the State Board of Education and the state university system’s Board of Governors to create lists of degree programs ‘that they determine lead directly to employment.’ The two governing boards oversee higher education in the state.”
• Gainesville Sun ($): ‘Welcome back’ program invites former residents to move home. “‘The overall purpose of the program is to prevent rapid demographic change and community change in eight communities that are threatened with gentrification,’ said Chelsea Bakaitis, a project manager for the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency.”
• Ocala Star-Banner ($): Sheriff can cover Dunnellon, but it will cost at least $1M per year. “The idea of the sheriff’s office taking over for the city police department arose when Police Chief Mike McQuaig told city councilors that he wants a new building. City officials believe that before taking on that request, then all options for police service need to be explored.”
• WUFT News: Baby Goat Rescued From 40-Foot Sinkhole By High Springs Firefighters. “(…Goat owner Jason) King was washing the walls of his house outdoors when he heard the stress cry of the goat mother. He proceeded to call 911 for animal rescue. Upon arrival, firefighters worked to develop a rescue plan that would ensure the safety of the animal and themselves.”
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Around the state today
• Fresh Take Florida: Finders Not Keepers? Florida Considering Ban On Keeping Found Spacecraft Parts. “The proposals would require anyone in Florida who finds a spacecraft or reasonably identifiable parts to notify law enforcement officers. They also would require police or sheriff’s deputies to try to find the object’s rightful owner.”
• WFSU: Lawmakers Look To Prevent Local Governments From Eventually Banning Gas Stations. “Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) is sponsoring a measure that would preempt regulation of transportation energy infrastructure to the state. That means local governments wouldn’t be able to make decisions about the construction, upgrading, and repairing of things like gas stations. Hutson says some local governments want to switch from gas to electric for powering cars—and he says that takes away consumer choice.”
• WFSU: Republican Leaders Back Changes To Bright Futures Scholarship Program. “A plan steering bright futures scholarship money to students who enter in-demand degree fields is getting endorsements from Florida House and Senate leaders. The bill limits funding from going to students who decide against majors the state deems critical for its workforce.”
• WUWF: ‘Why Are We Making It Harder’ To Amend Florida Constitution? “Continuing with efforts to make it harder to amend the Florida Constitution, a Senate panel Tuesday backed a controversial proposal that would require approval from two-thirds of voters for ballot measures to pass.”
• Fresh Take Florida: Top Florida Law Official Describes ‘Extremely Lax’ Security At Hacked Water Plant. “The head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Rick Swearingen, provided the unexpected update on the mysterious sabotage effort during a Cabinet meeting. The criminal investigation continues in the case. No one was hurt.”
• Fresh Take Florida: Dropping Confederate Holidays In Florida A Focus For Some Democrats. “The birthdays of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, as well as Confederate Memorial Day, have been legal holidays in Florida for more than a century. The bills – HB 6007, SB 1116 and SB 1302 – would see that 2021 is the final year they appear on the state calendar.”
• First Coast News: How close is Florida to herd immunity? “There are two ways to reach herd immunity: get the virus or get the vaccine. Recent estimates show for herd immunity to be reached, 70 to 90 percent of the population would either have to get the vaccine or be infected with the virus. … Florida is getting close to vaccinating four million people and nearly 22 million people live in the state.”
• Spectrum News: Florida Legislators Look at Addressing Issue of Court Fines and Fees. “A Hillsborough County-based legislator says it’s time to question whether Florida’s system of collecting fines and fees is really the best way to fund state agencies like the court clerks.”
• WTSP-Tampa Bay: Texts show Manatee County leader, developer discuss how vaccine pop-up site could help Gov. DeSantis. “Manatee County Commission Chair Vanessa Baugh, who has faced calls to step down, texted: ‘After all, 22 is right around the corner.'”
• WMFE: All Four Disney Parks Are Booked For Spring Break. Could It Be A Sign Of Recovery? “Although the parks are still at limited capacity, all four Disney theme parks are fully booked next Monday through Thursday with Hollywood Studios booked through March.”
• WJCT: First Coast Economy On A Slow Path To Recovery, Experts Find. “The Northeast Florida Regional Council says the area ended 2020 with a GDP that was 3.4% lower than 2019’s. The region lost more than 40,000 jobs during the pandemic. But with more residents of the First Coast receiving their coronavirus vaccines, the economy is expected to start returning to normal.”
• WUSF: Here Are The Finalists To Redevelop The Tropicana Field Site. “The team’s lease with the city expires in 2027, and the Rays have been exploring options for a new stadium in the greater Tampa Bay region as well as a proposal by team owner Stu Sternberg to split regular-season games between Tampa Bay and Montreal.”
• WMFE: Another Batch Of SpaceX Starlink Satellites Heading Into Orbit. “SpaceX is set to launch another 60 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral in an effort to build a global blanket of internet coverage. The tiny internet satellites will join the more than 1,000 currently in orbit.”
• WLRN: Invasive Zebra Mussels Turned Up In Pet Stores. Fisheries Biologists Worry It’s A New Path To Destruction. “The discovery of invasive zebra mussels snuggled in balls of moss in a Seattle pet store followed by a second pet store in Florida has wildlife officials scrambling to contain what could be a new destructive breach in the nation’s decades old fight to control the mussels.”
• Florida Politics: Ashley Moody suing Joe Biden administration over failure to deport illegal immigrants. “The first-term Republican AG announced she is filing a lawsuit and an injunction in federal court to block Joe Biden from stopping deportations, saying the Biden administration is ‘thumbing its nose to its responsibilities under federal law’ with his executive order.”
• NBC-2 Fort Myers: Drone helps capture fleeing felon in Golden Gate. “Jabaree Miller, 26, of Golden Gate, is facing a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he, reportedly, aimed a handgun at a woman and said ‘Today is the day,’ and, ‘All I need is one bullet,’ according to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies sent drones into the sky to search for Miller.”
• WFTS-Tampa Bay: The show must go on: New and improved Tampa Theatre reopens a year to the day since closing. “When the theatre originally opened on Oct. 15, 1926, it was the first commercially air-conditioned building in Tampa.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.