The Point, April 8, 2021: Why This Year Has Been So Deadly For Florida Manatees

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• WUFT News: UF Health Mass Vaccination Events Bring Busy First Week, Thousands Of Doses Administered. “As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in Florida opened up to all adults — as well as 16-and-17-year-olds for the Pfizer vaccine — on Monday, UF Health launched a goal to administer 20,000 vaccines weekly for the next six weeks, working in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County.”

• WUFT News: Look To The Sky This Weekend In Gainesville As Vintage World War II Aircraft Fly Formations. “For many people, flying is a means of transportation to get from point A to point B while seated uncomfortably alongside strangers encroaching on their personal space. But for Jon ‘Mojo’ Rising, 57, and others like him, flying is a gateway into the past. While high above in his World War II-era aircraft, he imagines the histories of those who flew it before him.”

• WUFT News: Santa Fe College Hopes For Revenue Increase In New Fiscal Year. “A new state audit shows Santa Fe College saw a 10% decrease in revenue during its last fiscal year, but the effects on the college’s operation were minimal thanks to cost-cutting and donor MacKenzie Scott’s $40 million largesse made in December.”

• WUFT News: Alachua County School Board Begins Discussions About Difficult Budget Year. “The Alachua County Public School Board on Wednesday discussed a decrease in enrollment and how it will affect the annual budget. The takeaway: Expect a corresponding budget decrease.”

• WUFT News: Gainesville Community Members Rally As Student Financial Aid Bill Progresses To Florida Senate Floor. “Authored by state Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, the bill revises the eligibility for students to receive the Florida Bright Futures scholarships by establishing a financial award based on the amount specified by the General Appropriations Act. This way, public revenue provided entirely by the Florida Lottery could be used to fund other government expenditures instead of guaranteeing a 100% or 75% college scholarship to students who meet the existing requirements.”

• WUFT News: Gainesville Police Department Offers $10K Rewards For Any Information On Unsolved Homicides. “This February marked 20 years since the death of Gainesville police officer Scott Baird, one of the four officers killed in the line of duty. His case is among 26 homicides in the city that remain unresolved.”

• WUFT News: Micanopy Residents Protest Construction Of New Dollar General On Historical Native American Grounds. “A new Dollar General is set to be built on the land that the Battle of Micanopy was fought on during the Second Seminole War. Micanopy residents attended a meeting Tuesday night to protest the construction of the store on Native American grounds.”

• Gainesville Sun ($): Gainesville officials want to ‘repurpose’ contaminated Job Corps site. “Gainesville city staff in the next couple of months will develop a plan to “repurpose” a 41-acre site that was previously the home of a U.S. Job Corps training program into a local job training facility or possibly something else altogether.”

• WUFT News: Undocumented Citizens Receive Community ID’s for COVID-19 Vaccine. “As people become eligible for the vaccine, the community IDs become more relevant. The Human Rights Coalition of Alachua County provides the community with a reliable form of identification.”

• Mainstreet Daily News: Levy BOCC calls for peace, files injunction against Crabfest organizer“According to a report by LCSO spokesperson Lt. Scott Tummond, arrests related to the past Crabfest events that include LCSO, Florida Highway Patrol and Marion County Sheriff’s Office are three arrests in 2017, 23 arrests in 2018 and 14 arrests in 2019.”

• Gilchrist County Journal: A Gilchrist resident complains of air cannon noise, families want peace and quiet. “Commissioner Kenrick Thomas, who represents District 5 in Gilchrist County, explained that he had talked with the farmer from Gilchrist County and the air cannon goes off to scare the white tail deer. The local farmer reported that he has an estimated 200 acres of watermelons planted in this area and the white tail deer are destroying the plants.”


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Around the state today

• WUFT News: Florida Manatee Deaths Surpass 500, Heading Toward Another Record High in 2021. “Every winter thousands of manatees migrate through Florida’s waterways in search of warm water and plentiful food. This year, though, the seagrass beds that these marine mammals rely on as their primary food source have been insufficient in supply, causing at least 540 manatees to die so far in 2021. The five-year average for annual deaths is 578.” Listen to today’s episode of our podcast to hear an interview with the reporter behind this story.

• Associated Press: Gov. DeSantis Gets His COVID-19 Vaccine, Joining Other Florida Leaders Who Have Been Inoculated. “His office confirmed Wednesday that the Republican governor got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only a single dose.”

• Politico: The congressman and his wingman. “(Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel) Greenberg’s in a federal jail, awaiting trial on a wide-ranging 33-count indictment alleging a host of financial crimes, stalking, identity theft and sex trafficking a minor, all of which have become national news because of his close association with Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican congressman fighting for his political life.”

• News Service of Florida: Tallahassee Police Officers Get Protections Under Marsy’s Law“The decision by a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of two Tallahassee police officers who maintained that, as victims, they were entitled to privacy protections included in the 2018 constitutional amendment known as ‘Marsy’s Law.'”

• Bradenton Herald ($): Life near Piney Point resumes after engineers find threat of major flood has passed. “For about four days, residents and businesses near the former phosphate processing plant were ordered to seek shelter elsewhere, with the threat of an imminent collapse of the south pond after a breach was found in a portion of the wall.”

• WUSF: About HRK Holdings, The Owner Of Troubled Piney Point. “HRK Holdings purchased the Piney Point land in 2006 but filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after about 170 million gallons of toxic water spilled into Tampa Bay.”

• Florida Politics: Senate passes its $95B spending plan. “The state economy has repeatedly outperformed expectations, but Senate budget chief Kelli Stargel has emphasized the chamber will remain frugal with its budget amid uncertainty. Lawmakers were forced to make difficult cuts, but approved the plan unanimously.”

• News4Jax: Florida Senate approves property insurance changes. “Property insurance rates are on the rise with insurers reporting $1.6 billion in losses last year. Florida lawmakers are hoping legislation passed Wednesday through the Senate will help lessen the blow, but even with the proposed changes, rates will likely keep increasing in the short term.”

• Fresh Take Florida: Legislature Passes Bill Requiring Political Bias Surveys In Florida Universities. “Florida lawmakers Wednesday passed a controversial bill to require Florida’s public universities to ask students and faculty to complete yearly surveys to identify political bias in college classrooms. It passed the Senate in a 23-15 vote and awaits the governor’s signature.”

• WFSU: Democratic Lawmakers, Advocates Say Right To Farm Bill Is Ploy To Protect Sugarcane Burning. “Democratic lawmakers and South Florida community advocates are teaming up to oppose a bill that would make it harder to sue farms. They say proponents of the measure are using it as a cover to support sugarcane burning that adversely affects communities of color.”


From NPR News

• Health: Vaccine Refusal May Put Herd Immunity At Risk, Researchers Warn

• Health: Drugs Targeting Immune Response To COVID-19 Show Promise

• Business: Why Are Millions Of N95 Masks Sitting In A Factory Without A Buyer?

• National: Texas Courts Open Eviction Floodgates: ‘We Just Stepped Off A Cliff’

• National: Tiger Woods Crash Caused By Unsafe Speed, LA Sheriff Says

• National: Virginia 16th State To Legalize Recreational Pot, Latest To Emphasize ‘Social Equity’

• Politics: What Will It Take For Congress To Pass Biden’s Infrastructure Plan?

• Politics: MLB All-Star Game Moved To Colorado Amid Uproar Over Georgia Voting Law

• Race: Derek Chauvin Trial Breaks ‘Blue Wall Of Silence,’ But Will It Transform Policing?

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 emagoc@wuft.org.

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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