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The stories near you
• WUFT News: Gainesville and FDOT are moving forward with building a road to try to decrease I-75 congestion. “The city is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation on a project that includes the construction of a road that would parallel I-75 and run from Southwest 62nd Boulevard to Clark Butler Boulevard. The project also includes repairs to 62nd Boulevard and the construction of a 300-foot bridge over Hogtown Creek.”
• Tampa Bay Times ($): UF president, faculty agree on changes to safeguard free speech. “The changes include adding an appeal process and including faculty on committees to review decisions regarding the university’s conflict of interest policy. The policy came under fire after some professors said they were denied the opportunity to serve as expert witnesses in lawsuits against the state, the argument being that it was not in the university’s best interest. The new appeal process also will apply in situations where faculty are denied permission to participate in activities outside their university duties.”
• Gainesville Sun ($): Auditor General withdraws criticism of GRU’s accounting but maintains concerns about debt. “The preliminary audit said the utility’s debt levels were considerably higher than comparable municipal systems. For instance, in 2019-20, GRU’s long-term debt was more than $1.7 billion, second only to the much larger Jacksonville Electric Authority with debt of more than $3.3 billion. But the 4.3 debt ratio for GRU is much more of a problem than JEA’s ratio of 1.01.”
• WUFT News: One Buchholz student organization is running to raise awareness about mental health, suicide prevention. “Though (Ryan Howell’s) death was a tragedy for his parents and two sisters, they used their moment of darkness to inspire a change in the conversation about mental health. They started the Ryan Howell Memorial Scholarship, which donates directly to Perspectives Integrated Treatment and Sober Living, an Ocala-based addiction recovery treatment program. Four years later, the scholarship is still supporting the program, allowing the facility to expand its services and locations.”
• Florida Politics: Ralph Massullo seeks millions for Citrus, Hernando projects. “Rep. Ralph Massullo is seeking nearly $80 million in funding for projects in Citrus and Hernando counties with a focus on transportation and water quality. Massullo, a Lecanto Republican representing House District 34, outlined his $79.4 million request through 20 individual appropriation bills filed Thursday.”
• Fresh Take Florida: Christmas tree supply issues affect Florida farmers. “Christmas trees take, on average, 10 years to grow. During the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009, there was a decrease in both holiday spending and the amount of trees farmers planted. This combination led to a decreased output beginning in the late 2010s. Tom Utsman, a farmer at Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest in Eustis, Florida, said he also began to feel the effects of these shortages beginning a couple years ago.”
• Mainstreet Daily News: SBAC to address bullying of face mask wearing students. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) anticipated in 2020 that sending students back to school wearing face masks during the COVID-19 delta variant surge would lead to bullying behavior from anti-maskers.”
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Around the state
• USA Today Network ($): Helped by federal aid, Gov. Ron DeSantis spends big in $99.7 billion budget proposal. “Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday proposed a $99.7 billion ‘Freedom First’ state budget for 2022-23, an election-year spending plan that increases dollars for schools and the environment while spreading pay raises and bonuses across a range of public sectors.”
• WUSF: DeSantis wants $270 million to protect Florida’s waterways, but environmentalists say more is needed. “Paul Owens is president of the smart-growth advocacy group 1,000 Friends of Florida. He says it isn’t nearly enough to address requests already made to the Department of Environmental Protection.”
• Spectrum News: Federal infrastructure bill sending $198 million to Florida to increase availability of EV charging. “The state’s share of the pot of funds will be doled out over five years, according to a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) spokesperson.”
• WLRN: Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho is headed west to lead the Los Angeles school district. “After more than a decade in the position, Alberto Carvalho will leave his post as Miami-Dade Schools superintendent. At a press conference Thursday afternoon he confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that he was a finalist to lead the Los Angeles Unified School District.”
• Daytona Beach News-Journal ($): Police: Embry-Riddle student planned mass shooting on campus Thursday. “An Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student who had posted threats suggesting he was going to commit a mass shooting on campus was arrested Thursday as he left his apartment with a backpack that contained a collapsible semi-automatic rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, Daytona Beach police said.”
• WFSU: Leon County launches historic trail through downtown Tallahassee. “A new trail through downtown Tallahassee will give visitors a chance to venture into the city’s past at their own pace. … The Downtown Heritage Trail features 13 historic sites, including museums, historic parks, cemeteries and buildings.”
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.