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Today’s top Florida stories
• WUFT News: Her TikTok broadcasts from inside a Florida prison are exposing conditions to millions. “Keiko Kopp reports on Lowell Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Ocala with a fraught history. Lowell gained attention in 2019, when guards so severely beat Cheryl Weimar that she was left quadriplegic. In December, a Department of Justice report found the Florida Department of Corrections had been aware of, yet failed to prevent, ongoing sexual abuse at Lowell for over a decade. Unlike those on the outside trying to learn what’s happening behind Lowell’s walls, Kopp reports from the inside, where she’s serving a three-year sentence.”
• WUFT News: ‘History we don’t want to lose’: What you should know about Sarah McKnight and her Gainesville establishments. “The acts McKnight, a musician herself, brought to town attracted folks from all backgrounds, including white students from the University of Florida. Like much of Gainesville’s Black history, however, her story has become lost to the passage of time as well as urban development.”
• WUFT News: Following backlash and support, school board extends mask mandate in Alachua County Public Schools. “In a meeting Tuesday, the Alachua County School Board voted 4-1 to continue with mandatory masking for all students. Only medical exemptions will be accepted for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Parent exemptions will be accepted for high schoolers.”
• Florida Politics: Alachua, Broward schools face $500K state funding cut equal to federal grants awarded. “In another head-spinning development in the battle between state administration officials and defiant school boards over COVID-19 protocols, the state’s top school official is recommending stripping aid from two school districts in an amount equal to the federal grant the districts received as recently as last week.”
• WUFT News: School bus drivers were always in demand. COVID-19 further strained the staff, parents and students. “Local school districts including Alachua, Marion, Putnam and Bradford are recruiting bus drivers, which is not abnormal as many school districts hire year round. But the pandemic amplified the need with quarantine absences and a reduction in staff.”
• WUSF: Weeki Wachee River may soon become a protected spring zone. “Hernando County voted last week to ask the state to make Weeki Wachee River a springs protection zone. The designation, created by the Florida Legislature earlier this year, would stop boaters and other revelers from anchoring or mooring on the river’s shore. The move is the latest attempt by the Board of Hernando County Commissioners to stop the degradation of the beloved river by kayakers, boaters and others.”
• Spectrum News: Florida lawmaker pushing to put manatees back on endangered species list. “A new bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan may bump manatees from being a ‘threatened’ species to ‘endangered.’ If H.R. 4946 passes, it would mean more money, personnel and stronger regulations to protect the animals. ‘When you lose 15% of the population, nearly 1,000 deaths, which is double what it was last year, we’ve got to come up with a plan and not just hope it goes away,’ Buchanan said.”
• News4Jax: First time in nearly two months no storms to track in the Atlantic Basin. “The pattern appears to remain quiet the next few days but models indicate some activity may develop the second week in October along the mid-Atlantic coast and north of the Caribbean.”
• Pensacola News Journal ($): Three days of rain catches up as roads start to flood Tuesday in North Santa Rosa County. “An additional 3 to 6 inches of rain is forecast across the watch area through Wednesday evening. This new rain on top of what has already fallen will enhance the risk for flash flooding.”
• Politico: Gaetz ‘wingman’ asks judge to delay sentencing until March 2022. “His current sentencing date is scheduled for Nov. 18, but in a motion filed Tuesday, (Joel) Greenberg asked that the sentencing be delayed so he can continue to cooperate with federal investigators. Prosecutors don’t object to the postponement, according to the motion.”
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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.